Words by Irene Ssentongo, Head of Programs at The Hunger Project Uganda.
The 2019 Global Hunger Index (GHI) indicates that the level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide falls within the moderate and serious categories. With a score of 30.6, Uganda suffers from a level of hunger that is classified as serious. Uganda produces more food than it consumes, yet stunting in children under five years stands at 29%.
Food is fundamental to human dignity and no human being can sustainably live on food aid. Families all around the world must be empowered to sustainably produce and consume nutritious food for their wellbeing. Why has hunger persisted in Uganda? Victor Hugo, a French poet and novelist said, “There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Ending hunger is not about finding more solutions nor doing something more. It is not about inventing new solutions nor is it about doing nothing. It is about causing the end of hunger on this planet by thinking out of the box.
There are unwritten laws that determine the persistence of hunger. These same laws keep people from working. It is also true that the principles that govern the end of hunger and poverty are the very principles that motivate people to get up and work. To better understand these hidden laws and principles one needs to examine and understand human nature specifically the unconscious assumptions and beliefs that shape our responses to the problem of hunger.
The first assumption relates to scarcity. We tend to perceive the world from the scarcity mindset. We have been raised to believe that everything of value is scarce and, therefore, needs to be safeguarded lest you lose it all. Food is not scarce, it is just the mindset that believes in the idea of scarcity.
The second assumption relates to inevitability. We perceive different conditions in the world as being inevitable. Many people believe that a fraction of the population will always be hungry irrespective of the efforts to free themselves.
Thirdly is the assumption of no solution. Many may ask, what should I do? Or there is nothing much I can do about the situation. We assume there is no solution to the problem of persistent hunger.
However, there are principles we can follow. The first principle is contextualisation. Ending hunger can only be realised when the state of its existence is transformed from just focusing on the solution to analysing the intention behind the solution. In creating a context, people get to answer the question, “Why am I choosing this course of action?”
Ending hunger calls for personal responsibility. You have to be fully involved in order to become the centre of influence. This is also a question of human dignity. As human beings we are born with a natural and spontaneous sense of responsibility. When we awaken this sense of personal responsibility, we birth the idea of ending hunger.
You cannot end hunger by just playing your part. There is no ‘part’, but the whole. One needs to commit fully to making the idea work. Hunger is not just the mere absence of food, but also an empowerment issue. Addressing the whole not just the parts is creating the context through which the end of hunger and poverty in the world will be achieved.
Lastly is the principle of transformation. Sustainable Development Goal two predicts an end of hunger by 2030. When we take a look back 10 years from now at how hunger ended, it will not seem as if miracles happened.
Everyone involved in this struggle will know how it all happened. They will point back to events that were pivotal in making this dream a reality. Transformative changes happen when people become more open-minded, intentional and committed to ending world hunger. Ending hunger is everyone’s responsibility. It is not only the solutions out there that will ignite change, but also the intentions behind whatever solutions we seek in the process.
Be part of the whole and invest in the end of hunger here.