Did your kids go to bed hungry last night?
Around the world every year the statistics collected by the World Health Organization the UN's Food and Agricultural Organization even The World Bank are demonstrating an alarming picture of starvation in Asian, Africa and Across Latin and South America.
Sometimes you can see the faces of hunger and extreme poverty on the news, in magazines and spread all over the internet, but do you know the numbers that belong to those millions of nameless faces?
16 million children globally will die this year of hunger or food nutrition related issues and 6 million will be under the age of 5 (CARE). The Majority of these deaths were in developing countries, 3/4 of them in sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia. Proportionally these death numbers are higher than deaths by disease at anytime during recorded history (even during the Plague).
Every minute 21 kids die around the world from hunger related health issues and disease, which could be prevented it they had adequate food.
Millions of children and people will go to bed hungry, actually starving, around the world tonight. Parents will not be able to find, barter for or buy food for their children, tonight. They will hold and rock their child to sleep as he/she moans from hunger pains feeling helpless.
It maybe due to drought, war, political genocide, disease, climate change or myriad of other reasons, that these children will have bloated bellies and hunger pains when they try to sleep. Some will die in the night from actual starvation. I'll bet you kids didn't go to bed hungry, did they?
The CARE organization estimates "more than 840 million people in the world are malnourished - 799 million of them live in the developing countries".
Earth is home to over 6.5 billion people and approximately 5 billion live in developing nations. Less than 1 billion people live in the industrialized countries of the world (including USA). And 1.6 billion people struggle to survive from day to day in the developing nations and live on less than $1 per day!
Hunger causes health issues, effects brain development, stunts physical growth, contributes to high infant birth defect rates and extremely high infant mortality rates in developing nations. It causes lack of energy, loss of hope and general malaise in people.
The 4 most prevalent childhood illnesses afflicting and killing children in developing nations are malaria, measles, chronic diarrhea and acute respiratory illness. Malnutrition and lack of proper vitamins increases the risk of contracting these illnesses and dying from them. And most medications for many of these diseases can not be given without the child or adult eating food first.
27 % of children under 5 years old are estimated to be "moderately to severely underweight.8 % severely wasted.and 31 % are moderately to severely stunted, or seriously below normal height for one's age." (Bread for the World, 2005)
Now that the numbers have overwhelmed you and the faces on last night's news from Darfur have tugged deeply at your heart; do you want to know what causes this world disaster?
The 4 fundamental reasons so many children and people are hungry in the world at this moment are: poverty, priorities, population and disease.
Poor people are hungry and hungry people are poor. Sounds like a vicious cycle or bad play on words, but it is the truth. People in the industrial nations live to eat and people in the developing countries merely survive day to day hoping to find someway to eat. The money spent on agriculture and food production in developing nations is very small in comparison to industrial nations. So the lack of capital investment and national agricultural program contributes to poverty and keeping people hungry. Many developing nations have a "Culture of Poverty" which perpetuates the problem of hunger. The lack of viable work and pathetic wages paid for what does exist is dismal at best.
The priorities of many developing nations and their governments have greatly contributed to keeping their own people hungry and poor. Exploitation of developing nations by their leaders makes some very rich and keeps most poor. The western world's exploitation of developing countries through colonization has also only helped feed people when they needed them to work for companies pillaging their national resources. Yet, other times it is because of Marxist government policies (Ethiopia) which keep aid from their people.
Misfortune, persecution, exploitation and many time indifference combined with modern genocide creates hungry malnourished people. The world's children dying from hunger does not sell ads for TV or newspapers, like war and sex do and national religious differences often reinforce political indifference to neighboring nations ills.
The third major factor causing the hunger crisis is exponential population growth in most every developing country. These nations are seeing their population double (or more) every 20 years. [Just imagine if your town doubled its population every 20 yearsyou would need twice as many food stores, houses, cars and so on. Now think about your town growing 3 times its size by the time you are 60.] This fast explosive population growth would strain every resource and the town, state and federal budget. Think about countries that have no budget for social services or agricultural plan.
Ultimately disease is rampantly afflicting the poor nations, where food, medication and doctors are scarce. Malaria and HIV are devastating the adult populations in most African nations leaving 1,000's of children homeless, without parents and begging on the street for food to survive day to day. Immune system suppression due to the lack of vitamins and nutrients makes many developing country populations "at-risk" for various bacterial disease and infections that kill.
The myths about hunger also facture world opinion about who is hungry and why. Educating yourself and others about world hunger is the first step in helping children to not go hungry into the cold night never to wake to sunlight of another day. Until the souls and spirits of men are changed, it will be as the Christians Bible says "the poor will always be with us", and too many will die needlessly in a world that has ample resources, abundance, promise and ability to make it different.