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The Global Food System Part II. Introduction to Global Studies XIDS 2301. Global Hunger. There are around one billion hungry people in the world (one in seven people in the world is hungry). The number has increased during the past decade.

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The Global Food System Part II

Introduction to Global StudiesXIDS 2301


Global Hunger

  • There are around one billion hungry people in the world (one in seven people in the world is hungry).

  • The number has increased during the past decade.

  • There is enough produced in the world so that, if they could get it, all ~7 billion people in the world could consume >3000 calories per day.

  • Why and how does hunger occur?

  • What can/should be done about it?


Global Hunger

  • Defining hunger

    • --This is important b/c problems often get defined in terms of available and/or economically/politically/socially convenient solutions

    • “When I give food to the poor, they call me a saint. When I ask why the poor have no food, they call me a communist.”

      • (Brazilian archbishop Dom HelderCamara)

  • --Hunger can be defined as inadequate or insufficient :

    • Consumption of calories (undernutrition)

    • Consumption of nutrients/minerals (malnutrition)

    • Ability to reliably enough food to live a healthy, active life (food insecurity)

    • Capability to reliably access socially/culturally acceptable food in socially acceptable ways (food insecurity)





  • World food program
    World Food Program

    • United Nations organization directed to

    combat global hunger

    • Est. 1961

    • Provides emergency and development food and aid

    • In 2001, provided food to 77 mil people in 82 countries

    • Most of food is distributed to displaced people and refugees

    • Relies entirely on voluntary contributions from countries, businesses and organizations, and indivdiuals


    Global trends in food aid
    Global trends in food aid

    • • Food aid has declined as a form of aid

    • 1960s/70s1990s

    • 30% 7%

    • Overall the value and volume of food aid have declined

      • --In late 1990s, total value of aid was only 20% value of 1980s

      • --In late 1990s, total volume of aid was only 40% volume of 1980s

    Value of food aid as share of all aid from countries



    Largest recipients of food aid 1998
    Largest recipients of food aid, 1998

    • 1. Bangladesh

    • 2. N. Korea

    • 3. Ethiopia

    • 4. Indonesia

    • 5. India

    • 6. Peru

    • 7. Rwanda

    • 8. Mozambique

    • 9. Angola

    • 10. Bolivia


    Largest donors of food aid 1998
    Largest donors of food aid, 1998

    • Country% total food aid provided

      • Australia 4

      • Canada 5

      • China 1

      • EU 27

      • Japan 9

      • Korea 1

      • Norway 1

      • USA 53


    Hunger often occurs where food is available. . .

    “. . . because people are not able to acquire enough of it.”

    Will producing more food solve this problem?

    Why does hunger occur?

    • Sen’s entitlement thesis

    “Food does not automatically trickle down to those who need it.”


    Why does hunger occur?

    • Sen’s entitlement thesis

      • Hunger occurs when/where people are not able to legitimately acquire enough food.

      • In other words, hunger occurs when legitimate modes of acquiring food are disrupted.


    Why does hunger occur?

    • Sen’s democracy thesis

    I know how to prevent famines and address hunger!

    Democracy!

    Amartya Sen (Economist)


    Why does hunger occur?

    • Sen’s democracy thesis

      • Effective political rights and oppositional politics can and do enhance food entitlements


    Amartya SenReceiving 1998 Nobel Prize in Economics


    • If there are no elections, no opposition parties, no scope for uncensored public criticism, then those in authority don’t have to suffer the political consequences of their failure to prevent famines. Democracy, on the other hand, would spread the penalty of famines to the ruling groups and political leaders as well. This gives them the political incentive to try to prevent any threatening famine . . . [Moreover, a] free press and the practice of democracy contribute greatly to bringing out information than can have an enormous impact on policies for famine prevention . . . Indeed, I would argue that a free press and an active political opposition constitute the best early-warning system a country threatened by famines can have.

      • Amartya Sen Development as Freedom (1999)pp. 180-1


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