The bells that toll today for those dying of starvation every day will ring out tomorrow for the whole of humanity should we not wish to, know how to or be unable to demonstrate sufficient wisdom to save ourselves.
Currently, over 800 million people across the world fall victim to this scourge which has indeed recently worsened again in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In this region, between 2015 and 2016 the number of victims rose by 2.4 million, exceeding 42 million, according to the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO).
At the Regional Conference held in Montego Bay, Jamaica, the organisation highlighted the risk the region runs of failing to achieve the Zero Hunger Sustainable Development Goal by 2030 if it does not reverse the current trend.
Although the region is one of the largest food producers in the world and one of those that has made the most progress over the last decade as regards reducing rates of hunger, this reversal in trends is concerning.
FAO’s Zero Hunger special ambassador for the region, Guadalupe Valdez, told Prensa Latina that this economic and social evil exists and is exacerbated by a lack of political will on the part of many governments and countries to implement programmes aimed at eliminating it.
“If policies for the redistribution of wealth are devised, which allow hungry people work and fair wages, allowing them access to food, this scourge is eradicated,” he argued.
In the opinion of FAO representative in Cuba, Brazilian Marcelo Resende, today seven times more food than is required for essential per capita needs is being produced in the world, so if there are hungry people around it is because they lack the money to buy it.
However, political will on the part of governments is not all that is required: in large part and on a global level the will of those who control the economy and conduct international trade is also needed.
Politicians and experienced experts agree that it will be impossible to eradicate hunger while millions of people live in extreme poverty and squalor and nearly 800 billion dollars are annually allocated to producing and trading arms, instead of using the money to put an end to this scourge.
They also agree that this will be impossible whilst underdevelopment, intolerable foreign debt and the blind laws of an uncontrolled market continue and whilst tens of thousands of tons of food are wasted annually and unequal conditions of trade reign supreme.
This last situation is evident given the conditions industrialised countries impose especially in agricultural trade on so-called Third World nations, preventing them from being competitive in international markets.
Likewise, any enterprise aimed at eradicating hunger by continuing to employ indiscriminate practices that exacerbate global warming and the greenhouse effect will be unsuccessful. The same can be said of other practices that exacerbate the incidence of cyclones, scarcity/excess of rainfall and, above all, deterioration of soils and deforestation.
According to experts, whilst this issue of hunger is alarming for the whole of humanity, it impacts on children in particular, with some several hundred million underweight, stunted and affected by other diseases as a result of malnutrition.
There are tens of millions of children suffering from vitamin A deficiency and who present with iron, iodine and zinc as well as other nutritional deficiencies. It should be noted, moreover, that because of unhealthy eating habits and lifestyles there are an enormous number of children and elderly in the world suffering from obesity and associated diseases, including diabetes, high blood pressure and other diseases that cause a large number of deaths every year.
Analysts agree that the road towards a final solution for hunger and all forms of malnutrition is now becoming clearer, starting with FAO’s support for the design and implementation of policies and the allocation of resources to food security and nutrition. (PL)
(Translated by Nigel Conibear – DipTrans IoLET MCIL – firstname.lastname@example.org) – PhFotos: Pixabay