What Are the Main Causes of Food Insecurity in the World Today?
What are the main causes of food insecurity in the world today? Outline and evaluate 2 or 3 possible solutions to food insecurity problems Currently, millions of people across the globe suffer from under-nutrition and hunger. In 2007, the UN (United Nations) estimated that there are approximately 850 million people who suffer undernourishment in the world today. It also reported that 799 million undernourished people live in developing countries, most of which are on the African and Asian continents.
Reportedly, the major contribution to this international issue has been food insecurity (FAO, 2008, p. 8). It affects people ranging from individual to national level with various causes, particularly neglect of agriculture and natural disaster in developing countries (FAO, 2005, no page given). This essay will identify two main causes of food insecurity which have been said above and also it will outline and evaluate two possible solutions to food insecurity problems: improving agriculture and humanitarian aid system.
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It is necessary to define the meaning of food security before its causes can be considered.
Commonly, the concept of food insecurity is the state of being unable to have both physical and economic access to enough and nutritious food (WHO, 2008). Socially, people who are in this state often cannot maintain household food supplies and suffer from under nutrition (FAO, 2005). This situation prevails when nations lack sustainable access to sufficient, safe and, nutritious food for productive and health living (WHO, 2008). According to an on-line journal by Getachew (2008, no page given), neglect of agriculture has been ascribed as the major cause of food insecurity from short-term shocks.
Other search illustrates that natural disasters can have significant impacts on food security from long-term shocks (FAO, 2005). Millions of people around the world are affected on food insecurity by various issues especially downgrading agriculture and natural disaster. Having outlined the definition of food security, it is now possible to consider the main causes of food insecurity. There are various factors that contribute to food insecurity in different parts of the world. First, neglect of agriculture especially in developing countries is such a key ause of chronic food insecurity (Makoni, 2010, no page given).
According to Khasnobis (2009, p230), the amount of foreign aid allocated to agricultural activities has decreased from 19 per cent in 1980 to 4. 5 per cent in 2009. Nevertheless, only a few governments have attained the 2003 Maputo Declaration which required every nation to allocate 10 per cent of its budget to agriculture. It can be said that this has consequently led to poor infrastructure, along with poor food-storage facilities, which risk such nations in suffering food shortage in case of crop failure.
Indeed, food insecurity is likely to be greater in areas with lower agricultural knowledge (USDA, 2010, no page given). According to an on-line article by Makoni (2010, no page given), 80 percent of population in Africa depend on agriculture and people become more poor because of low productivity and consequently, 30 percent suffer from hunger daily. Therefore, it could be argued that this evidence illustrates that chronic neglect of agriculture can lead to low productivity, poverty, and eventually chronic food insecurity.
Secondly, natural disasters can be considered as another major cause of food insecurity. According to an on-line article in FAO (2008, no page given), in the past two decades, the number of sudden onset natural disasters including floods, hurricanes and earthquakes has increased dramatically from 14 per cent in the 1980s to 27 per cent since 2000. In the result of this, the number of food insecurity has increased sharply during the same period (FAO, 2008, no page given). Food security is affected by natural disasters through its impact on local and national food systems.
Recently, the impact of natural disasters has created a fall in agricultural product prices and therefore this current price led to inconvenient conditions for farmers in developing countries (FAO, 2002, no page given). Under the circumstance, producers use less money for improvements on the nature of farming land such as fertilizers and manure which are normally not affordable by poor farmers (FAO, 2002, no page given). Thus it causes a bad effect on food production in developing countries and eventually food insecurity.
Moreover, when natural disasters occur, poor households suffer great economic losses, resulting in deepening their poverty further. These losses can trap them in food insecurity. As a result, it seems that natural disasters are one of the causes of food insecurity. Now, the remainder of this essay will discuss solutions for the two causes of food insecurity which have been argued above. In order to solve food insecurity problems, improving agriculture can be one of the solutions. International donors and the government in developing countries had neglected agriculture for a long period and it causes food insecurity.
In 2008, the World Bank, in its annual development report, admitted that greater investment in agriculture is needed to solve food insecurity problems (Makoni, 2010, no page given). Investment in agriculture can make the governments to ensure that farm materials and equipment are available to farmers at fair prices. Moreover, government is also able to ensure that farmers in the rural areas have easy and convenient access to the necessary farming requirements (FAO, 2008, no page given). This can be achieved by setting up stores for supplying these materials and equipment in every region at strategic places (Khasnobis, 2009, p231).
Thus, it can be said that improving agriculture including investment for the availability of materials and equipment can allow people to record high productivity and it leads to solve food insecurity problems. However, it requires an enormous amount of investment in these materials and equipment and so it is not a constructive solution if the developing countries assets are in a bad shape. Furthermore, it is essential to address that climate change problems still affect on agriculture improvement in developing countries even the governments invest in these materials and equipment.
Recently, impact of climate change on food production in developing countries has been increasing and at this rate, its impact will be double by 2060 (FAO, 1996, no page given). This means that it is also necessary to invest in agriculture to increase the resilience of present food production systems due to climate change problems. For example, investment in drip systems and sprinklers enables farmers to produce more food with less water (Postel, 2001, no page given). However, it is a long term solution and a large amount of funds is needed to offer these systems to every farmer.
It could be said that investment in agricultural materials and equipment is one of the solutions to solve the food insecurity problems, and it should be concerned that investment to improve the food production systems is also needed because of climatic changes. However, a large amount of funds and time is needed for these solutions so, it can be said that these solutions are not so practical for food insecurity problems. Secondly, improving humanitarian aid system for natural disasters can be another solution for food insecurity due to the fact that natural disasters cause food insecurity.
When natural disasters happen in developing countries, it causes the direct physical damages on crops and the indirect impacts especially, loss of potential production due to deteriorated the nature of farming land, and increased productions cost (UN, 2008). Thus, when natural disasters especially sudden onset disasters happen, the immediate humanitarian aid, particularly medical support, relief supplies and food aid for disaster refugees is needed as it causes food insecurity eventually.
According to an on-line article in Oxfam International (2009, no page given), the number of people affected by national disasters will increase by 54 per cent to 375 million people in the next five years. However, the aid response is fickle, too little and not good enough. One of the reasons for this is political preferences make aid unfair (Oxfam, 2009, no page given). For example, in 2004, while an average of only $23 was spent for each victim of the crisis in Chad, an average of $1,241 was spent per person affected by the Asian tsunami (Oxfam, 2009, no page given).
Therefore, it is essential to improve the immediate aid system promptly without political preferences so that it is possible to prevent the agricultural damages from spreading. As it is mentioned earlier, backward aid for natural disasters is important to prevent agricultural damages. Moreover, proactive aid is also needed to prepare for disasters to decrease the damage from it (Oxfam, 2009, no page given). Investment for researching data on past natural disasters can be one of the examples. It is an effective but not easy solution without the help of national governments.
The United Nations should propose some ideas for improvement of proactive aid. It is a solution with long-term effects which reduce the impact of natural disasters and mitigate food insecurity. Food insecurity is highly dependent on agricultural production and is caused by natural disasters. Therefore, both an immediate aid and a proactive aid for disasters are needed to solve food insecurity problems. It is necessary that national governments help to improve these aid systems. In conclusion, this essay has identified that neglect of agriculture and natural disaster are the main causes of food insecurity today.
Both of these causes lead to great economic losses, poverty and eventually food insecurity in developing countries. These causes are not directly related to food insecurity. However, they indirectly cause the major people’s food insecurity problems. In order to solve food insecurity problems, improving agriculture by investing for agricultural materials and present food production systems could be one of the major solutions. Another solution for food insecurity is improving immediate and proactive aid systems. Thus, it could be argued that both long-term and short-term solutions are needed for food insecurity problems.