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Hunger blind spots hide millions of broken dreams

Across the world hunger remains a huge problem, causing death and illness and trapping millions of families in poverty. This won’t change unless we know exactly where people are struggling.

Mary France Dorlas holds the leaves she will boil and eat in Port-au-Prince, Haiti. Credit: Abbie Trayler-Smith/Panos Pictures for Concern Worldwide

It’s vital we know exactly where people are going hungry. How else can we make sure short-term help and big systematic changes reach the right people?

This year 12 countries were left out of our Global Hunger Index – an annual ranking of the countries worst affected by the problem – because of a shortage of information. 

But we do know enough to be seriously worried about hunger in ten of these places. Many are dealing with the effects of conflict, climate change and widespread poverty – all problems that push families into hunger.

Here’s a list of those ten countries, and some of the problems they face. Concern is already working in most of them: it’s vital we don’t let a shortage of information lead to a lack of action.

Burundi

Burundi endured civil war between 1993 and 2005, and now violence has returned to the country. This year, UNICEF said a “major nutrition crisis” was possible. A Concern aid distribution in Cibitoke, Burundi. Credit:  Irenee Nduwayezu/Concern Worldwide

The Comoros

More than seven per cent of children in this island nation, off Africa’s south east coast, die before their fifth birthday. Worsening economic conditions are hurting a country that is already poor and prone to natural disasters.

The Democratic Republic of Congo

A 2013/14 survey found high levels of stunting – reduced physical and mental development caused by poor nutrition. The stunting level (43 per cent) had barely changed since 2001.

Eritrea

Satellite pictures suggest serious drought conditions in this East African nation. The last time there was enough data to include Eritrea in a Global Hunger Index report, in 2014, it ranked second worst of 120 countries.

Libya

Conflict and instability have hurt agricultural production and made it harder to distribute food. About 1.28 million people – more than live in Manchester, Birmingham or Glasgow – don’t have enough to eat.

Papua New Guinea

Poverty, inequality and reliance on just a few crops have left many people without a diverse and nutritious diet. Drought and frost brought by the El Nino weather system have made it harder to produce food.

Somalia

In 2011, famine led to the deaths of 250,000 people in Somalia. Five years later, drought linked to El Nino has left many struggling to get by.

South Sudan

In April 2016 a third of South Sudan’s people were facing ‘crisis-level food insecurity’, according to the UN. The country gained independence five years ago, but has been affected by violent conflict for much of its short history. A pile of Sorghum at the home of Mr & Mrs. Atak Achuil who are members of a Concern Worldwide farmers group in Aweil, South Sudan. Credit: Kevin Carroll/Concern Worldwide

Sudan

A 2014 survey showed worrying levels of child undernutrition in Sudan, with 38 per cent of children under five stunted. Poverty, drought and conflict are all serious problems in Sudan. These problems have caused many people to leave their homes, making it even harder for them to feed themselves.

Syria

Hunger is one of many threats faced by people in Syria. The UN reports that food production has dropped to 40 per cent of pre-war levels. The UN’s secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, has accused all sides in the Syrian conflict of using starvation as a weapon.

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