7 myths about world hunger

150 150 The Hunger Project Australia

Hunger is not just about food. On World Hunger Day we are going to do some myth-busting and expose 7 misconceptions about world hunger.

Myth #1: Hunger is just a problem of not having enough food.

Fact: Hunger is a complex challenge that occurs when people lack the opportunity to earn enough income, to be educated and gain skills, to meet basic health needs, and have a voice in the decisions that affect their community.

Myth #2: Most hunger occurs during famines.

Fact: The majority of people living in hunger live in chronic, persistent hunger – as distinct from the acute famine emergencies that make the news. For them, hunger is a daily, sometimes life-long, reality. People living with persistent hunger require and deserve a sustainable solution based on self-reliance.

Myth #3: Hunger affects men and women, boys and girls in the same way.

Fact: More than 60 percent of the world’s hungry are women and girls (FAO 2017). Systemic inequality limits a woman’s access to resources from the time she’s young. At meal times, she is fed last and least; instead of being sent to school, she is sent to work; and often she is married off and having her own children by the time she’s a teenager. When this cycle is broken, however, and women are empowered with opportunity, women invest greater portions of their income in food, healthcare and education.

Myth #4: Handing food out to hungry people is an effective way of alleviating their chronic hunger.

Fact: Although there are emergency situations in which food aid is the difference between life and death, the majority of the world’s hungry people are chronically undernourished and deserve a sustainable solution. The Hunger Project addresses the root causes of hunger and poverty using a methodology that is affordable, replicable and sustainable. It emphasises rural development and self-reliance and enables women and men to eradicate persistent hunger in their communities, empowering them to be more resilient to famine or other emergencies as they arise.

Myth #5: Rural and urban populations face the same chronic hunger challenges.

Fact: While malnutrition manifests in similar biological ways across rural and urban populations, two thirds of hungry people still live in rural areas. In addition, currently, 70 percent of the people living in poverty reside in rural areas. The Hunger Project invests in rural development because it is the point of highest leverage for ending hunger and extreme poverty.

Myth #6: Hunger is just a consequence of overpopulation.

Fact: Studies show that rapid population growth does not cause hunger. Rather, both hunger and rapid population growth are consequences of the same social conditions: poverty and inequality. The Hunger Project addresses these root causes of hunger by mobilising people to be self-reliant, empowering women, and strengthening local government.

Myth #7: Women-centered approaches to ending hunger exclude men.

Fact: Women bear the major responsibility for meeting basic needs, yet are systematically denied the resources, freedom of action and voice in decision-making to fulfil that responsibility. The Hunger Project programs aim to achieve gender equality by empowering women to be key change agents. Men participate in our programs and are an important part of this process, as a change in their mindset is needed for this societal transformation as well. Whether working with groups of men or women, or all together, a focus on women’s leadership is critical to achieving gender equality and the end of hunger and poverty.

World Hunger Day was first organised in 2011 by The Hunger Project as a way to highlight the issue of severe and chronic hunger across the globe. The day will highlight the importance of fostering self-reliance, upholding the principles of human dignity and recognising that every human is inherently creative, resourceful, responsible and productive.