The number of hungry people in the world has increased over the last few years. One in nine people in the world habitually go hungry, and, as a result, suffer from nutritional deficiencies. Food security is the biggest threat to the overall health of the human population, more so than malaria, tuberculosis or HIV.
So, what is the problem? How can it be 2020 and people are still going hungry?
The problem is not that we aren’t producing enough food (although this might be a problem in the future), but that people lack access to food. Many people do not have enough money to purchase food or cannot grow their own.
While hunger has steadily decreased over the past decade, an upsurge in conflict over the last few years has greatly increased the number of refugees in the world.
Farmers need to abandon their land to save themselves and their families. Once these farmers reach a safer location, they have no land rights, which means they can’t grow crops. These refugees then need to purchase highly-priced, imported foods. When they don’t have enough funds to do so, families don’t eat.
Even though approximately 11 percent of the world is undernourished, about 40 percent of the adult population are overweight.
No country in the world had seen any kind of decrease in obesity rate. In fact, it is rising among both children and adults. While it is tempting to think of obesity as a form of “over-nutrition”, it is actually another kind of malnutrition.
People consume nutrient deficient, high-carb, preservative-rich prepacked food, and store unhealthy weight as a result.
Another surprising fact about obesity is that, while you might it expect it to only occur among higher-income groups, it actually affects people at every income level.
Nutritious food is often more expensive and, when food prices rise, lower-income communities have no choice but to choose prepackaged, and high-carb or high-sugar options.
Go test this out for yourself. Visit your local supermarket and compare the price of a punnet of strawberries to a candy bar. Which is cheaper? If you did not have much money, which would you choose?
The UN is working to reduce the number of hungry people to zero by 2030. This is represented by UN SDG 2: Zero Hunger. In Fiji, one of the countries with the highest levels of obesity, GVI has been working to support a community with setting up their own vegetable garden.
Nutrition and cooking workshops are also held. These training opportunities enable individuals to champion sustainable lifestyle changes in the community. The garden means that the community is less dependent on the ups and downs of the international market and the low production of in-country farmers.
Community vegetable gardens can provide the choice of a nutritious, natural treat over a prepackaged sugary treat. Our other community development projects around the world, in Thailand, India, Nepal, Mexico, Costa Rica, and South Africa, also feature many community garden projects similar to those run in Fiji.