By Cian Molloy - 13 October, 2018
A survey of worldwide hunger and starvation levels by Ireland’s largest aid agency reveals that the populations of many countries face greater hunger than in 2000.
The 2018 Global Hunger Index, published jointly by Ireland-based Concern Worldwide and the German charity Welthungerhilfe, looked at 119 countries. While the overall situation has improved in the past 18 years, 51 of these countries have hunger levels that are “alarming” or “serious”.
The Central African Republic, has hunger levels that are “extremely alarming” as a result of ongoing war and conflicts that have forced millions of people to flee their homes.
The six countries with “alarming” levels of hunger are Chad, Haiti, Madagascar, Sierra Leone, Yemen and Zambia, and the 45 countries with “serious” levels of hunger include Afghanistan, North Korea, Kenya, Iraq, Myanmar and Bangladesh. Generally, the two regions where populations are most likely to experience hunger are south Asia and sub-Saharan Africa.
No data could be collected for 13 countries where hunger and starvation are believed to be a major problem, including Somalia, South Sudan and Syria.
In the Central African Republic more than 2.5 million people are in need of humanitarian assistance. Not only has farming been made impossible by the ravages of war, food reserves, seed stores and livestock have been looted and pillaged by the various warring factions, making unassisted recovery by the civilian population an impossibility.
Looking at the global picture, Concern Worldwide’s chief executive Dominic MacSorley said a “staggering” 124 million people are suffering from acute hunger and, in some cases, starvation. “This is an increase from 80 million two years ago. That means more people on the ground are dying from preventable causes, mostly conflict. And the majority of those who die are children,” Mr MacSorley said.
He called for political leadership and action to address the issues that leave people without adequate food, and decried those politicians who only respond to humanitarian crises by increasing border controls. “Worryingly, we are seeing the issue of migration become a lightning rod for new political discourse that is increasingly more hard-line than humanitarian.”
In 2015, as part of the UN’s sustainable development goals, the world’s countries committed to working together to achieving zero hunger and malnutrition by 2030. “We are not on track to meet that goal. Hunger is political and progress is possible,” Mr MacSorley said.
Concern World was founded 50 years ago by Fr Jack and Fr Aengus Finucane, brothers who were members of the Spiritan Order. They were compelled to found the organisation in response to the humanitarian crisis created by the Biafran War in Nigeria in 1968. Today, Concern Worldwide operates in more than 50 countries across the globe.
The 2018 Global Hunger Index can be downloaded in full from Concern Worldwide’s website.