Topic Background

Approximately 1.3 billion people in developing countries live on less than $1.25 a day or less. However, between the years of 1990 and 2008, efforts to reduce this number have been highly successful and the amount of people living in poverty has decreased by nearly half, “from 48 to 26 percent.” According to United Nations reports, food prices have begun to rise and have again caused an increase in global poverty.

Extreme hunger and poverty not only affects one’s physical body, it affects one’s access to education, health, and protection. It is important to note that poverty, food prices, and hunger is all connected. Poverty makes someone hungry and hunger leads to a state of malnourishment. Million people worldwide live with malnourishment because of the simple fact that they cannot pay for food or afford the supplies necessary to raise their own livestock. The problem with poverty and malnourishment is the fact that it stops a developing countries ability to focus on its economic development.

In developing countries like Ethiopia and Bangladesh, food shortages and diseases hinder the countries internal development. Due to poor sanitation and the lack of humanitarian relief efforts from the international community, these countries see a drastic rise in the amount of people starving and living in poverty. In Bangladesh alone, 45% of the population is below the poverty line while 20% do not have the resources of the finances to buy food.

Past International Actions  

United Nations recognition of world hunger and poverty began when the Universal Declaration on the Eradication of Hunger and Management was passed in 1974 at the annual World Food Conference. In it, member states agreed that every man, woman and child has the “inalienable right to be free from hunger and malnutrition in order to develop fully and maintain their physical and mental faculties.” The United Nations has also passed numerous resolutions in regards to eradicating world hunger. Resolution 50/109 of the World Summit in 1995 expressively mentions that everyone has the right to be free from hunger and malnutrition.

Several UN organizations have led the forefront in the fight against poverty and hunger. The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) along with the World Food Program (WFP) began to treat malnutrition by targeting children in developing countries. The WFP has implemented over 70 food distribution centres worldwide and has been successful in providing food to those living in the most insecure food regions.

Possible Solutions

One possible solution is addressing the availability of resources and funds to continue and strengthen humanitarian relief programs. The international community must continue to aid those developing countries with an increasing poverty rate with funds and food resources to foster development within the community. For example, microfinance programs can be effective in reducing poverty in a developing country. Microfinance campaigns are programs that provide small loans to individuals living in poverty to help them become economically self-sufficient. Those receiving these loans can use the funds to purchase resources necessary to farm their own food or even start a small business.

Another possible solution is the World Food Programme’s School Meal Program initiative. This program has provided 42 countries worldwide with strategies on how to implement their own Home-Grown School Feeding Programs, which are ran by individual governments in order to feed children. According to the WFP, it is more difficult for children to learn without adequate food and nutrition and which 55 million primary school-age children attending school hungry, education becomes a loss. However, with this solution, children are more likely to attend school because food is secured there. School meals can also break the cycle of hunger, poverty and child exploitation by providing food in the poorest of areas. The WFP, through this program, has been successful in providing meals to an average of 22 million children in school with about half of those being girls, in 70 countries.

Photo Credit: Azli Jamil Photography via Compfight cc

Anant Mishra is former youth representative United Nations. Almost 4 years, he has served in number of committees including United Nations Conference for Trade and Development and United Nations General Assembly primarily focusing on international trade, middle east crisis, education, finance, economics. He can be reached on
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