Myths on hunger debunked:

There is nothing we can do about hunger


Myth 5: There is nothing we can do about hunger


Hunger is not inevitable. It is a consequence of policy choices. It is a result of the way in which the international food system is organised, of the limited resources mobilised to fight against poverty, of the neglect in which family farming has been left during recent decades, even though small agricultural producers and rural workers are precisely those who constitute the majority of the hungry.

Many of the non-industrialised countries have tended over the years to reduce the part of their budget used to support food and agriculture, and official development assistance to agriculture represents a reduced share of development aid, falling from close to 17% of the total in the 70s to around 3% at the turn of the century. Despite this, there has been faster growth of agriculture in non-industrial countries than in industrial countries!

So if one digs behind the immediate causes of food insecurity, whether chronic or transitory, it appears that the causes could have been eliminated or at least strongly reduced if appropriate decisions had been made by governments or by the international community.

The 2007/2008 food security crisis is a perfect illustration and it can be explained by a series of errors or shortcomings (read more on food crises). These errors and shortcomings often result from the balance of power existing in industrial countries as well as in non-industrial countries which are in favour of agriculture in rich countries and penalise the sector in poor countries (read more on this subject – in French only – translation to be available soon).

This situation, although somewhat discouraging should also be a source of hope. If hunger is a consequence of decisions taken by humans, then this means that other decisions can undo the network of causes of hunger. This message of hope requires that each of us mobilise in order to influence policies in a direction that will ultimately lead to a real eradication of hunger.

Materne Maetz

(September 2012)

Last update:    September 2013

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