Myths on hunger debunked:

Hunger is a consequence of meteorological events or of war


Myth 3: Hunger is a consequence of weather events or of war


War and extreme weather events (droughts, floods) can have a dramatic impact on people and put them in extreme situations of hunger and poverty, because of crop failure, interrupted  production or a breakdown of marketing systems. Much can be read, seen or heard about such events in the media. But they constitute only the tip of the hunger iceberg.

For example, in 2005, the food crisis in Niger, Sudan and the Horn of Africa, as well as in Southern Africa put 35 million Africans in an emergency situation that required food aid. This very high figure is, however, quite small when compared to the 250 million people that were suffering from chronic hunger at that time on the continent.

In 2012, the Horn of Africa crisis that was well covered in the media involved around 12 million people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. However, estimates show that in these countries there are around 50 million people suffering from chronic hunger.

It is chronic vulnerability and the physical weakness it induces that is largely responsible for the fact that any shock (economic, political, health or climatic) can quickly bring millions of people to an extreme state of deprivation and poverty. This situation has sometimes been called “the forgotten emergency”, a situation quite different from the emergencies that are mentioned in the media. This invisible phenomenon is not very telegenic but is  an integral part of the reality of hunger.

Around 1 billion people are in a situation where their undernourishment makes them unable to work to their full potential and makes them as victims of diseases that would be harmless for able-bodied persons.

Materne Maetz

(September 2012)


Last update:    July 2013

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