In 2015, 800 million people continue to go to bed hungry each night. This means that one in nine people on this planet do not have access to the nutrients and vitamins essential for proper development and health.
The vast majority of the world’s hungry people live in the developing world: 780 million people, or almost 96 percent of the world’s chronically hungry and undernourished population. The Caribbean, Oceania, Southern Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa are home to the majority of the world’s hungry and undernourished. In fact, 281 million hungry people live in just Southern Asia alone. In sub-Saharan Africa, 23 percent of the continent’s population is chronically hungry and undernourished. Despite the fact that the overall rate of hunger has declined in the region, population increases means that since 1990, 44 million more Africans now live with chronic hunger.
As with many issues that are exacerbated by extreme poverty, it’s often the youngest and most vulnerable whom are hurt the most. The world’s children are disproportionately affected by food and nutrition shortages. As of 2015, 90 million children under the age of five—one in seven worldwide—are underweight. Ninety percent of the world’s hungry children live in just two regions: Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. Living with chronic hunger and malnutrition puts children at risk of dying from common colds and infection. And even if children do recover from these diseases, their recovery times are often delayed.
Stunting is even more common than being underweight in the developing world. Globally, 160 million children have inadequate height due to chronic hunger and malnutrition. In the developing world, children from the poorest families fare much worse than those from the wealthiest households; children from the bottom quintile of households are twice as likely to be stunted as those from the top quintile.
The Life You Can Save’s recommended charities work to combat the inequalities in food supply and distribution, and the underlying structures that lead to inadequate nutrition. Our charities’ innovative and research-backed initiatives have brought nourishing meals or vital nutrients to some of the world’s neediest communities and families.
The Iodine Global Network (IGN) and Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN)—run cost-effective programs to add iodine to a common household food: table salt. Through their universal salt fortification programs, the IGN and GAIN continue to provide hundreds of thousands of people with this vital nutrient. The IGN oversees salt fortification programs in 150 countries worldwide; GAIN’s salt fortification programs are active across 16 countries, reaching half a billion people—including 16 million newborns each year. At roughly 5 to 20 cents per person covered, universal salt fortification programs are one of the most cost-effective ways to help secure adequate nutrition for the chronically malnourished.
Project Healthy Children’s (PHC) micronutrient food fortification brings life-supporting vitamins to some of the world’s chronically malnourished populations. Often called the world’s “hidden hunger,” micronutrient deficiencies can cause preventable blindness, maternal death, birth defects, miscarriage, and cognitive and developmental delays. PHC works with national governments and food manufacturers to find low-cost, effective means of adding iron, folic acid, and iodine to local food supplies. PHC currently runs successful programs in sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America, which reach 55 million people.
As a global leader in international development work for more than half a century, Oxfam International works to combat the underlying social and economic inequalities that cause hunger, malnutrition, and food shortages. Oxfam provides emergency food supplies in response to conflict and disaster, and has played vital roles in bringing food to displaced populations in the aftermath of the Nepal earthquake and in the current conflict in Syria. Oxfam also runs school lunch programs to help the world’s poorest children stay in school and live active, healthy lives.
One Acre Fund reduces hunger in agricultural communities in East Africa by helping small farmers improve harvests and maximize farm profits. More than 60 percent of people living in the Horn of Africa rely on subsistence farming to support their families, but one in four people in the region do not have sufficient food and nutrition. One Acre Fund’s farm programs empowers local growers through a four-part support system: the organization grants farmers start up capital in the form of asset-based loans, distributes necessary supplies such as seeds and fertilizer, provides up-to-date agricultural training, and helps farmers build economic networks with local traders. By 2020, One Acre Fund projects that its farmers will produce enough surplus food to feed 5 million of their community neighbors throughout East Africa.
The Life You Can Save is a movement of people fighting extreme poverty. We hold that an ethical life involves using some of our wealth and resources to save and improve the lives of those less fortunate than us.
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