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Marcin MICZEK, student
Silesian University of Technology, Gliwice
Faculty of Mathematics and Physics
specialization: Computers in Physical Measurements
Even at the end of the twentieth century people are still dying of hunger. What can be done to solve this problem?
Perhaps everybody agrees with the opinion that hunger is one of the greatest and most important problems of the contemporary world. A lot of people think that it must be solved. Otherwise, we cannot say that our world is just and gives all the people the fundamental right to live in dignity. In this essay, I would like to treat this problem wider because when people are dying of hunger it is too late to help them. These people should have been helped earlier when they were poor and 'only a little' hungry.
I think that when we try to solve a problem we should know what it is caused by. The main reason for famine is the wrong distribution of goods in the world. It is obvious that some countries do not have enough fields which enable them to feed all their citizens. However the global production of food might meet the necessity of all people of the world. From my viewpoint, other reasons like the debts of the Third World, inefficient agriculture, politics and social structures, and the density of the population result just from the main reason and are secondary. For example, almost each country has debts but famine touches only some of them. We should not think that hungry children are only in the Third World. Some of the Polish pupils (even in my city, Chorzów) do not eat breakfast and a school dinner is the only meal they have in a day. Fortunately, they are not dying of hunger. However there are some other problems my country should try to cope with Homelessness as well as the increasing number of people dying of cold in winter seem to become some of the most serious cases of concern.
The problem of famine (like each of serious world problems - e. g. the armaments race, unemployment or the environmental problem of pollution) can be dealt with on three levels: personally, nationally, and internationally. These three levels are associated with one another so strictly that they must be considered together.
What ought we to do personally if we find out that there is famine in any land or region? Individually we can do little but if some human beings organize a collection of money, food, medicines etc. we all can help people in need. Many organizations (for example Polski Czerwony Krzyż - Polish Red Cross, Polska Akcja Humanitarna - Polish Humanitarian Action, Caritas) aid people from Poland and other countries. Everybody (if they want) can support their actions as much as possible.
But this all leads just to a momentary relief and not to a definitive solution of this problem. Somebody said: 'If you give somebody a fish, he won't be hungry one day but if you give him a net, he won't be hungry for years'. According to this statement we should not only feed hungry people but teach them how to avoid famine in their land as well. I think this direction of the national and international aid is still not enough. Obviously, it is easier to give a beggar a coin than to enable him to earn money. Unfortunately, this problem can be solved almost only in the second way. Too big help often leads the helped humans to laziness, a further claims and different incorrectnesses. For example, parents of some hungry Polish pupils are given an allowance for their children every month but they spend it on alcohol.
One of the national and international methods of preventing famine (used e. g. in China) is the control of conception by contraception and abortion. United Nations try to force this method upon poor nations sometimes even threatening them saying that no more loans will be given to them in case they refuse to use this method. I think contraception, abortion, and blackmail are wrong and unethical ways. The earth is able to feed all people and no-one must tell parents how many children they should have.
According to me, science may help to improve agriculture in Africa and Asia but money, nations' and their goverments' good will, and agricultural instructors are needed. New species of plants and animals and new methods of cultivation and breeding could help to increase agricultural production.
If goverments, organizations, enterprises, political parties, and common citizens (like us) did not spend so much money on armaments, election campaigns, advertisements, bureaucracy, and luxurious goods we could spend it on education, aid for the poor and, in this manner, prevent poverty and hunger all over the world. But the limitation of consumption and changes of people's thinking are almost impossible in a typical rich country.
Summing up I can say that the problem of hunger is not easy to solve and its solution demands big efforts of people, national and international organizations, and countries. I have written that the earth is able to feed us all and there is still hope that famine will disappear.
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PREVENT LAND GRABBING
An ugly side of current scares over future food supply is wealthy, land-poor states, like those in the Gulf and South Korea, acquiring tracts of undeveloped countries to use as allotments. It is a campaigning cause of the multi-charity IF campaign against hunger. Ethiopia, Sudan, Madagascar and Cambodia have been targeted and a total area the size of Spain may already have been acquired.
Problem: Hard to police. Difficult to distinguish between genuine investment in Africa and the expropriation of land from the poor who need it to grow their food. Chances: 3/10
BLOCK THE SPECULATORS
Huge sums of investment fund money have flooded into the commodities markets since the financial crisis, looking for returns no longer available in equities. Automated trading systems that exploit tiny flaws in the market and encourage volatility make it impossible for traditional traders to keep prices stable and hedge against spikes.
Problem: Much discussed in the G20 and G8, an international agreement on reforming and regulating the commodities markets looks no nearer than when the problem was first identified. Banks and investors have marshalled strong arguments against interference. Chances: 3/10
PRODUCE LESS BIOFUEL
The pressure to achieve targets on reduced carbon emissions from fossil fuel has seen rich countries turning sugar, maize and other food crops into ethanol and biodiesel.
Problems: Many economists doubt how important this issue really is in food price rises. Food and fuel prices are inextricably linked, so producing biofuel may lower food prices. A proportion of food crops have always been used for energy – 100 years ago 10% of the world's grain went to feeding horses. Second-generation biofuels won't use food crops, but wood, stalks and other waste. Chances: 1/10
STOP THE MEAT FEAST
Meat production is a wasteful use of the planet's limited resources – even today, 40% of grain crops are going to feed livestock and fish. It is most inefficient with intensive beef farming, where it has been shown that just 2.5% of the feed given to cattle emerges as calories for our consumption.
That is why the UN says agricultural production will have to rise 60% to feed the extra 2 billion mouths in 2050.
Problems: There is no international mechanism to regulate or alter collective human diets, and no models other than famine that have ever worked. Chances: 0/10
SUPPORT SMALL FARMERS
Most African farmers are less productive than a US farmer was 100 years ago. There is a consensus between NGOs and governments that supporting and training small farmers is the best possible solution to future food security. A combination of aid, education in low-tech methods such as better rice planting and irrigation, and the introduction of better seeds and fertilizer could spark a green revolution in Africa, such as the one that transformed South Asia in the 20th century.
Problem: Rich countries have proved poor at delivering on their aid pledges. Genetically modified crops are already part of these schemes.
TARGET INFANT NUTRITION
"Eliminating malnutrition is achievable. It's within our reach," Bill Gates told the London summit, and many companies and rich nations are backing an African government-led plan to tackle it. Big improvements have already been made. The solution lies in education on good feeding techniques and getting the right nutrients to the mother and child from the beginning of pregnancy. Overall, malnutrition makes people poorer – it is responsible for an 11% decline in GDP in affected countries.
Problem: Critics say it diverts policy makers' attention from the job of solving the systemic problems in food supply.
ROLL OUT BIOTECH
Huge gains could be available for health and agricultural productivity if the promises of genetic modification can be believed. Gene-splicing crops to help them withstand drought and flood may be vital. Pigs and chickens could have their digestive systems altered so that they eat food not required by humans, and pollute the environment less.
Problem: There are risks with the technology, and no satisfactory regulatory system in place. Public distaste at the idea of GM, especially in Europe, is holding up research and stopping investment. Safer ideas, like stem cell meat fed on algae, are still far from production. Chances: 6/10
Economic growth has long been seen as the key to reducing hunger. More trade, financial liberalisation and open markets should aid the flow of food, of which there's no overall shortage. Successful poverty reduction in China has led some economists to predict there will be no more hungry people there by 2020.
Problems: Not easy to organise, with the west in economic recession and aid spending falling. More importantly, economic growth does not necessarily trickle down to the hungry poor.Child malnutrition has increased in India during the past decade despite the country's boom.