Chris Kuchanny researches various social and environmental crises throughout the world, looking for new opportunities to assist. This can be via The Genesis Foundation, the charitable foundation he founded, by publishing research and op-eds, and by joining forces with stakeholders, reformers and donors.
One such crisis is global hunger. As of today, approximately 690 million people go hungry each day. This raises the question, what is causing global hunger to remain such a serious problem? Is it due to population growth? Economic imbalance? Geographical, structural, or supply chain issues making access to food more difficult?
World hunger has been on the decline for around a decade. For instance, between 2000 and 2004 15% of the world population of 6.4 billion were going hungry; equating to approximately 900 million people. In 2019, the world's population had grown to 7.7 billion with 8.9% of the going hungry, equating to over 800 million people.
Likewise, trends in child malnutrition have been positive. In 2000, 33% of children under five were stunted due to malnutrition. However, by 2019 that proportion fell to 21%. Notwithstanding, this remains a serious issue, as by 2020 an estimated 149 million children under the age of five had stunted growth due to malnourishment.
This data shows that whilst we have a long way to go, the trend in hunger and malnourishment has been improving, on both an absolute and proportional basis.
Sadly, since 2020 the COVID outbreak has sabotaged this improvement trend, with many falling into poverty and world hunger numbers back on the rise. Today's world population is 7.9 billion, and we're still seeing at least nine percent of the world going hungry. When the evaluation criteria expands to include everyone without adequate year-round nutrition, the number impacted explodes to 2.3 billion, or approx. 30% of the global population in 2020!
This data demonstrates that an increasing world population can sustain improvements in hunger levels. It also highlights the importance of the economy in the fight to overcome malnutrition, as there is clearly a strong link between economic development and improvements in world hunger.
The number of people who weren't meeting the necessary daily caloric intake had decreased but has jumped back up post-COVID.
The children who face this problem every day are more at risk of death, behavioral problems, anemia, and asthma. Hunger will affect their growth to the point where they never reach an average size, with a commensurate long-term impact on their health and prospects.
In adults, chronic food insufficiency leads to an overall higher rate of chronic conditions like diabetes and hypertension. Malnutrition weakens the immune system and affects every system of a person's body. Enough nutrients of different varieties are necessary for every part organ of the body to function. It makes a person more vulnerable to infectious diseases, as well as chronic ones.
On our current trajectory, the world will fail to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal - Zero Hunger by 2030. Worse still, it is estimated that 37 countries will fail to even reach low hunger, as defined by the GHI Severity Scale, by 2030.
More than analyzing the statistics, Chris Kuchanny believes that we are at a point when the world needs to reconvene in search of a solution. Hunger and poverty are clearly interlinked and have been deeply and deleteriously impacted by COVID all across the world.
From an individual perspective, we can help poor people in their local community in practical ways. We can also support charitable endeavors, particularly those focused on an economic empowerment approach, to sustainably help people help themselves out of poverty. This can be in the form of monetary donations, but also in other ways, such as volunteering, or using social media accounts to raise awareness. People should also consider the impact of their spending, for example by supporting the most socially conscious companies; as well as considering the implications of where they invest their money - impact investment can be an effective tool and is increasingly available to investors.
From a macro perspective, there are many things that larger players like NGOs, governments, and multilaterals can do, including incorporating UN’s six “transformational pathways” in policy initiatives. COP26 is an opportunity to review programmes, commitments, and goals, to ensure that, as far as practicable, activities are aligned with economic empowerment approaches that lead to long-term sustainability.
"Together We Can Do More"
Chris Kuchanny passionately concludes that “Together We Can Do More” to overcome hunger and poverty everywhere.