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For the first time in a decade, hunger levels have risen. But why?

On World Hunger Day, Director of Policy and Campaigns, Simon Starling, reflects on the two main factors for the increase of global hunger and how we must collectively rise to achieve the ambitious goal to #EndHunger by 2030. The key, in most cases, is empowering people.

Today marks World Hunger Day, which highlights the plight of people whose lives are blighted by hunger.  It is incredibly pertinent this year, because after an encouraging downward trend in global hunger for many years, for the first time in a decade, last year the number of chronically hungry people in the world rose by 38 million. Around 815 million people – equivalent to the populations of the EU and the US combined- are suffering from acute hunger

This increase is largely driven by two factors: conflict, and climate change.  Many  of the countries worst affected by malnutrition are experiencing protracted crises,  with people trapped in a vicious cycle of conflict, displacement, hunger and poverty, regularly experiencing loss of livelihoods, food shortages, and poor health and nutrition. Climate change, and resulting weather-related shocks further effect food production and availability, meaning an increase in food prices, and ultimately, reducing the amount people have to eat. Women, children, and adolescent girls are invariably the most vulnerable and often bear the brunt of the hunger and malnutrition burden, usually eating least and last.

We know that there are no simple solutions to addressing hunger. Tackling hunger in conflict zones and in fragile ecosystems is a huge challenge.  However, it is one that we can and must rise to collectively if we are to achieve the ambitious goal that the international community has set itself to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030

Whilst there is a clear need for more investment from world governments in tackling hunger and malnutrition, people’s own productivity and ingenuity can also be a driving force for ending hunger. 

In Central African Republic, officially the poorest and hungriest country in the world, smallholder farmers like Isabella have been taking part in community run Seed Fairs, where farmers can sell small stocks of leftover seeds to other villagers, some of whom are provided with vouchers by Concern. This simple system is helping villagers access, consume, and grow more food - ensuring a more diverse, nutritious diet and fewer people going to bed hungry.

Isabella holds the seed vouchers she received from Concern. Reka Sztopa/2016/CAR

Concern’s experience shows that long-term sustainable interventions, like seed fairs, can and do work. We need your support to continue to find new ways to break the vicious cycle of hunger, conflict and poverty, and ensure resourceful people like Isabella get the help they need to feed themselves and their families.