Report: Hunger, Poverty Down; 'Daunting Challenges' Remain


An airlift in Jos, Nigeria, in 1966 seeks to rescue Igbos from genocide, which is examined in EthicsDaily.com's documentary, "The Disturbances." (Photo provided by retired missionary Phyllis Wagner)

Hunger and poverty are being addressed more effectively than any other time in history.

Poverty has declined from 37.1 percent of the global population in 1990 to 9.6 percent in 2015, according to Bread for the World's 2017 Hunger Report.

Over the same period, global hunger has declined from 23.3 percent to 12.9 percent.

Yet, "daunting challenges" - including global conflict and climate change - remain and pose significant barriers to eradicating hunger and poverty.

These issues are interrelated and must be addressed as such.

For example, conflict causes hunger, which, if unaddressed, increases the probability of future conflict.

"Post-conflict countries where high levels of hunger are not addressed are 40 percent more likely to relapse into conflict within a 10-year timespan," Bread for the World noted.

Conflict is "one of the greatest threats to ending hunger," the report said. "More people die from hunger and disease in conflict zones than from violence."

In addition, "the effects of conflict endure long after the fighting ends," the report emphasized, citing Nigeria as one example.

"Four decades after the 1967-70 Nigerian civil war, researchers found that people born during the war were shorter (stunted) on average than others in the population," the report said.

The origins of this conflict, known as the Biafran War, are addressed in EthicsDaily.com's documentary, "The Disturbances."

The current conflict in Syria was another example cited. "Within two years of the start of the Syrian civil war, the country had lost 35 years of development gains," which will likely have a negative impact for years to come.

The interconnectedness of the causes of hunger and poverty is further demonstrated by the fact that "many conflict-affected countries are also vulnerable to natural disasters and climate change," the report said.

This is a growing concern, as more and more of the global population live in areas vulnerable to extreme weather.

"From 1970 to 2010, the world population grew by 87 percent, while the population in flood plains increased by 114 percent and in cyclone-prone coastlines by 192 percent," Bread for the World stated.

In addition, "more than 200 million people per year are directly affected by climate-related disasters, and their numbers are rising. ... Four out of five people experiencing hunger live in areas susceptible to natural disasters."

Several recommendations were set forth to address these challenges, including:

  • Increase funding to address the growing gap between humanitarian needs and resources.
  • Invest in sectors such as agriculture and infrastructure shown to have the greatest potential to reduce poverty and generate large numbers of jobs.
  • Strengthen coordination of humanitarian and development activities to build resilience to shocks and stresses.

The full report is available here. An executive summary is available here.

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Tags: Bread for the World, Climate Change, Environment, EthicsDaily Staff, Hunger, Poverty, The Disturbances


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