The circles of life (3) Half the world hungry: been there done that
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CTA. 1999. The circles of life (3) Half the world hungry: been there done that. Spore 2000 (Supplement to Spore 84). CTA, Wageningen, The Netherlands.
Permanent link to this item: http://hdl.handle.net/10568/46620
The circles of life (3) Half the world hungry: been there done thatDo not be shocked. The worst is still to come. The full expression is 'Been there, done that, got the T-shirt' and it is used by people with a desire to be complacent about their...
Do not be shocked. The worst is still to come. The full expression is 'Been there, done that, got the T-shirt' and it is used by people with a desire to be complacent about their experiences, often as tourists, and to describe something that is behind them. The point is, a lot of other people have got the T-shirt too. In some (richer) parts, some people view the world as being divided into have-nots and haves they are the haves. And with their senses dulled by excess consumption and entertainment, and deprived of much culture, many haves are indifferent, if not hostile, to the needs of the have-nots. There, we ve said it now. The right to food security and sustainable livelihoods now has to be explained to entire swathes of Northern civilisations and elsewhere in short, snappy, snacky terms, often packaged in simple forms, such as televised music concerts or T-shirts that shout 'Save the Planet'. Such simplicity, though, is an almost insulting naivety when we look at the scale of the problems we have faced and have solved and at the opportunities we must create and use. The world can feed itself satisfactorily, but it requires the devoted application of human will and knowledge. We can congratulate ourselves on the progress made in our agriculture. Yes, Dr Sen s prediction 40 years ago of a world of 6 billion souls by 2000 did come true. The United Nations announced the arrival of the 6 billionth world citizen on 11 October 1999, even celebrating the event with press conferences, and, probably, T-shirts. No, half the world s population does not go to bed, or what makes for a bed, hungry or malnourished; that prediction seems to have been over-pessimistic. There is an ongoing debate about the difference between what is called undernourishment and undernutrition, and sometimes it seems that even the experts cannot agree on the definitions. What matters is that the production and availability of food should reach a level where there is no hunger. People will then focus more on other priorities and opportunities to break the circle of poverty, like generating more income. Move the goalposts, change the targets to more realistic levels is a safer way forward. Dr Diouf, of the FAO: 'Even one hungry person is too many'. Nothing new about the fundamental humanity of that. What is new is the unceasing increase in agricultural production taken in overall, global terms. Also new is the world s refusal to delude itself into aiming at impossible targets. And so in 1996, the leaders of 186 countries gathered at the World Food Summit did not follow the calls of previous generations and demand the abolition of hunger within a generation. We know now, or at least believe, that more time is needed for food production to reach sustainably higher levels. The Summit instead set itself the target of halving the number of people who go hungry by the year 2015. In 1996, that number was estimated at 840 million; in late 1999, estimates indicate that the number is 790 million. Encouraging trends indeed, until you look behind the first layer of statistics. There is enough food to feed all the world adequately today: enough calories, enough proteins. But it is not simply a question of redistributing food, since that has no long-term viability. As well as, or rather than, redistribution of food, the challenge is to redistribute opportunity and the means to produce. Problems of food insecurity persist at what is known as the local level , but in fact sometimes these areas cover several countries, where efforts to develop agriculture and to increase food production have not succeeded. In the long term, Diouf says, the path to less poverty, better food security, and eventually freedom from heavy economic dependence on agriculture and often poor agricultural resources must pass through a phase of improved productivity. Animal, vegetable Food supply in 1992 reached 2718 calories per person per day In developing countries food supply reached 2500 calories per person per day African countries which consume especially cassava, yams or taro, saw a reduction in food supply in the ten years up to 1992