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The growing food crisis

If you’ve followed the news at all in the last few weeks, you’re probably aware of the developing worldwide food crisis. This has been THE story of late, and it’s news we are watching very closely.

So what, exactly, is going on? Well, a whole lot, actually. First off, destructive weather events (which, some argue, are due to climate change) have caused whole seasons of crops to fail in certain parts of the world. In Bangladesh, for instance, Cyclone Sidr tore through the costal districts of the country last November and now, six months later, there’s no rice harvest. In Somalia, the worst drought in decades is scorching plant life and killing livestock.


nutrition1c.jpg
UNICEF/ HQ98-0527/Giacomo Pirozzi

If you’ve followed the news at all in the last few weeks, you’re probably aware of the developing worldwide food crisis. This has been THE story of late, and it’s news we are watching very closely.

So what, exactly, is going on? Well, a whole lot, actually. First off, destructive weather events (which, some argue, are due to climate change) have caused whole seasons of crops to fail in certain parts of the world. In Bangladesh, for instance, Cyclone Sidr tore through the costal districts of the country last November and now, six months later, there’s no rice harvest. In Somalia, the worst drought in decades is scorching plant life and killing livestock.


nutrition1c.jpg
UNICEF/ HQ98-0527/Giacomo Pirozzi

Increased use of grains for biofuels is also contributing to food shortages in minor or major ways, depending on how you look at it. (And this is a tough one”obviously the world needs to be exploring as many alternate fuel sources as possible, but we’ve got to figure out how to balance this with food needs.) Add to shortages record high gas prices (meaning high transportation costs) and you can see how the cost of food has gone up so significantly. The World Bank estimates food prices have risen by an average of 83 percent in the past three years. With food costs so high, in many parts of the world people are going from barely getting by to being severely undernourished.

Malnourishment isn’t just a case of being hungry”it has a profound effect on every aspect of quality of life, especially in children. Malnourishment cripples children’s growth, it dulls their intellects, and saps their energy. And it is a major child survival issue. A child who is malnourished has a much higher risk of dying from a disease that might not normally kill her. As recently reported in the Lancet, at least 1/3 of child deaths are due to undernutrition.

UNICEF has a lot of experience dealing with undernourished children and their families (though we wish it weren’t so). And we’ve learned over the years how to counteract malnourishment and starvation with special high protein biscuits and a remarkable therapeutic nut spread called Plumpy’nut. But a major worldwide food crisis is a daunting and (to be honest) even scary prospect. UNICEF and other aid organizations will need a lot of help to stave off major famine.

Would you like to join us in helping children affected by the food crisis? Please go here.

4 Comments

  1. luyisee
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 5:18 pm | Permalink

    It is very sad to learn this catastrophe.
    We put the blame on weather, higher energy costs, population growth, increased use of grains for bio-fuels and more.
    What is the root cause?
    Is it within our mean to control?
    Have we tap the natural resourse too fast?
    Are we in a cycle of slow self-destruction?
    (We open up more forest for cultivation to meet the demand of food and bio-fuel.)
    Is there a better alternative like CNG/LPG insread of biofuel?
    (Bangladesh has very successful to encourage/implement CNG vehicles.)
    How many population can our earth really accomodate for everyone to have a decend living?
    Is there a corelation between the number of
    children born/woman with malnutrition?
    Is it morally accetable to educate those malnutrition victims to practice birth control when they come for humanitarian aid?

  2. Ronnie Wright
    Posted May 2, 2008 at 11:29 pm | Permalink

    I don’t see any mention of the grain that is being fed to cattle so that the wealthy of the world can eat their meat. It is a fact that you do not need to eat meat to maintain a healthy diet. All that waisted grain could feed the entire world. You can be part of the problem or part of the solution. If you eat meat you are the real problem. Biofuel only consumes 4% of the grain. Animals consume the vast majority of the rest.

    In addition, animal agriculture is the second leading cause of global warming. Global Warming may cause the death of hundreds of millions of the world’s poor people. If you’re not a vegetarian you’re not a humanitarian.

    Go vegetarian, if not for your own health; at least for the lives of those you people claim you want to help.

    Ronnie Wright
    http://www.worldchangecafe.com

    • Veronique
      Posted May 11, 2013 at 4:32 pm | Permalink

      Thank you Ronnie. I totally agree with you. As usual, the so-called human rights and environmental organization refuse to educate people to this simple truth because it will deter their base. That is irresponsible and frankly a waste of time to advocate anything less than veganism as, as you pointed out, we do not need animal products to sustain ourselves.

  3. Veronique
    Posted May 11, 2013 at 4:30 pm | Permalink

    What if we talked about the proverbial elephant in the room of why people starve: Our meat, dairy and egg habit. But as usual it is an unconventional truth even though we feed 80% of our grain (in the US) to cattle so people can have meat.

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