Why we should be Hungry for Change

Launched on 10 November 2012, CAFOD's year-long 'Hungry for Change' campaign will use key moments, such as the UK’s hosting of the G8 in May 2013, to highlight the issues at stake in the struggle against hunger call for further support. But what are those issues?

Hunger exists in different levels in every corner of the globe, but it is most extreme and concentrated in developing countries. In the last quarter of the 20th century people seemed to be winning the fight against hunger with the total number of hungry people going down. But just a few years into this century numbers were on the increase. Progress in reducing hunger has now levelled off and in some regions, especially Africa, hunger is increasing.

In 2008 the price of food rose sharply, and this was followed by a global financial crisis. These two events meant that by 2009 the number of hungry people had risen to more than one billion, dipping down to 925 million the following year as food prices decreased. This is a far cry from the MDG target of halving hunger levels by 2015.

So, right now one in eight people in the world is hungry, and women and girls are affected disproportionately. What causes hunger is complex – a brutal mix of elements including natural disasters, conflict, poor agricultural infrastructure, the increasing impacts of climate change, the present economic crisis – but underpinning them all is poverty and imbalance of power.

Having nothing to fall back on means the poorest people are more vulnerable to sudden disasters, food price increases and ongoing climate change, tipping them into hunger and to the brink of starvation. Offering emergency aid to people in dire need is a vital stop-gap, but at any given moment there is enough food produced in the world to feed everyone. So if we want to end global hunger we have to address the way the food system works.

The food system is not only about food, it is about politics, economic, social justice and the environment. Food can be bought, sold and eaten all within a few miles of where it’s grown, or it can travel thousands of miles and pass through many different processes. But whether it is local or global, what matters most in the food system is who has the most power, because they are the people who make the rules, while the less powerful have to follow them.

While East Africa is still facing its worst drought in 60 years with 10 million people in the region at risk of starvation, and as we all face the threat of a global food crisis, world leaders need to prioritise an overhaul of the food system that prioritises people rather than profit.

* CAFOD challenges supermarkets and government on hunger - http://www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/17388

* Watch CAFOD’s Hungry for Change short film - http://www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Get-clued-up/Food

* Sign a Hungry for Change action card or email Prime Minister David Cameron calling him to put the power in the food chain back in the hands of the poorest. The final day for returning campaign action cards to CAFOD will be 1 October 2013. To take action go to: http://www.cafod.org.uk/Campaign/Take-action-today/Hungry-for-change

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© Pascale Palmer is Senior Press Officer (Policy & Campaigns) for the official Catholic aid agency CAFOD: www.cafod.org.uk

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