Global famine is a scandal, but it’s not news

Donato Ndongo | We know the Earth produces enough food to feed its 7.5 million inhabitants. But 11% of them die every year due to famine or a lack of drinkable water. So 815 million people, including 5.6 million children. It’s a scandal which has hardly been picked up by the western media, since it means an increase of 38%, according to a joint report from specialised UN organisations published last November. It’s a disheartening figure which breaks the downward trend registered over the last 15 years, when the international community’s efforts succeeded in curbing the famines and cut the size of the undernourished population by half. The number of malnourished people or those with chronic starvation has also increased: amongst them 155 million children, who are suffering growth disorders, particularly those under five.

The report on food security and nutrition, endorsed by the WHO, FAO, UNICEF, The World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) highlights as reasons for the disaster the proliferation of conflicts “more complicated and unsolvable due their nature”, given that more than half of the starving population barely survive in war-torn countries. It also flags climate change: higher temperatures and related natural phenomena cause the shortage of food. The report warns about the “high risk” of the recurrent famine spreading in the Sahel, Southern Sudan, Yemen, Somalia and northern Nigeria. It condemns the fact that food and water are “weapons of war” in unstable places. The limited access to humanitarian aid and the lack of protection for civilians against the violence led to there being two million displaced people internally and over one million refugees in 2016, now depending on aid to survive.

Poor regions in many countries see how floods, droughts or hurricanes change their habitat. Of the total number of starving people in the world, 520 million live in Asia, 243 million in Africa and 42 million in Latin America. Realities which make eradicating world hunger in 2030, the objective of the UN’s Agency for Sustainable Development, a utopian ideal. Something which is impossible while the objective reasons remain and there is no guarantee of the “peaceful and inclusive societies” proposed by the FAO.

 

 

About the Author

Donato Ndongo
Donato Ndongo-Bidyogo was born in Niefang, Equatorial Guinea, in 1950. Writer, journalist and political exile. He was correspondent and delegate of Spanish EFE agency in central Africa (1987-1995). Director of the Center for African Studies at the University of Murcia (2000-2004). Visiting Professor at the University of Missouri-Columbia (United States, 2005-2008). Regular lecturer on American, African and European universities. He is the author of the essays "History and tragedy of Equatorial Guinea" (1977), "Anthology of Guinean literature" (1984) and co-author of "Spain in Guinea" (1998) as well as of three novels translated into several languages. Mr Ndongo is a regular contributor for Spanish media such as El País, ABC, Mundo Negro and The Corner’s print magazine Consejeros, among others.