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Focused action can reverse global hunger

Focused action can reverse global hunger
Story23 May 2024

Across the world, hunger is on the rise. As a major global economy and influential political power, the UK can and must play its part in eradicating extreme poverty.  

With a July general election just announced, we’re marking World Hunger Day by outlining key actions a new UK government should take to help reverse global hunger. 

Why is global hunger increasing?

Globally a staggering 735 million people are undernourished – an increase of 163 million in just seven years.  This rise in world hunger is being driven by the devastation of conflict and climate change.   

It is not difficult to understand the connection. In Gaza, the escalation of the ongoing conflict has left over 2 million people in urgent need of food. Famine is imminent. In Sudan, conflict has forced over eight million people to flee the violence with 18 million people also at risk of famine. 

Yet, at this critical time, cuts to international aid mean that we have seen a reduction in support at a time when it is needed most. Aid cuts must be reversed and should reflect the scale and urgency of extreme poverty and climate change.  

Countries like Sudan and Somalia, in the north east of the African continent (known as the Horn of Africa), are also suffering constant shocks from climate change. The region’s livestock and agricultural economy was already devastated by four years of drought. Now, the land, people’s homes and crops are being destroyed by flooding. 

People living in extreme poverty are often highly reliant on natural resources for their livelihoods and are disproportionally affected by the impacts of climate change. Climate change is a ‘threat multiplier’ because it makes it more difficult and more costly for lower income countries to reduce poverty.  

Countries like the UK, through their industrial development, are historically responsible for climate change. This is why Britain not only needs to take action to halt climate change, it must also commit to new, additional money that can support countries like Sudan and Somalia implement widescale climate resilience programmes, to mitigate the destruction of lands and livelihoods. The people facing climate emergencies across the world right now need us to work together with them to protect all of our futures.   

At Concern, we see first-hand how disaster caused by climate change and the impacts of conflict further damage the lives of people already living in poverty and put them at greater risk of hunger.  But we also see the solutions being put in place to change all of this. Let’s look at two actions that are making a big difference in the fight to reverse global hunger.  

Build climate resilience

In Somalia, we work with communities most vulnerable to drought, monitoring early warning signs and helping develop a rapid local response when signs of a potential crisis emerged. During the 2017/18 drought, this meant that by the time famine was forecast as a possibility in Somalia, Concern’s staff had already been giving cash transfers and support to ensure livestock survival six months beforehand.  

As a result, villages that were part of the early action programme had far fewer families forced to leave due to the drought. In fact, even though these communities were originally the most vulnerable, many became hosts to displaced people from nearby and previously “better off” villages.

Man farming in Somalia
Daahir is a farmer in Somalia, and the father of four children. With the knowledge and support he gained from Concern Worldwide he was able to plant different seeds, and grow them successfully. Daahir says a lot of people are dependent on his farm and produce; his family, the driver who delivers his produce to the city, the people selling them and people buying them. Photo: Mustafa Saeed/Concern Worldwide

Transform gender dynamics to cut poverty

Because of historical discrimination, globally, women are much more likely to live in extreme poverty than men. This means that women and girls are particularly impacted by conflict and climate change, forced further into poverty and hunger.  

Humanitarian programmes need to be guided by the voices of those most impacted, promoting women’s empowerment alongside ambitious programmes for nutrition, health and education.   

In South East Africa in Malawi, Concern staff worked with couples to discuss marriage practices, understand and prevent violence, the division of household labour, budgeting and decision-making. Research by Trinity College Dublin showed the programme not only improved women’s agency and men’s mental wellbeing, it also contributed to increased levels of food security, household income and livestock ownership. 

Couple farming in Malawi
Godfrey Sain and Agness Bowa harvest pigeon peas in their home garden in Lundu Village, Malawi. As well as being a lead farmer, a role that involves supporting others with training and advice, Godfrey is also a gender champion within his community. Photo: Chris Gagnon/Concern Worldwide

Now it’s your turn to take action

Communities from Somalia to Malawi are already putting their own solutions in place to protect their farms, water sources and livelihoods. By campaigning, we can help to give them the support they need to succeed. 

With a general election just around the corner, help us get the solutions to global poverty on the political agenda. Join hundreds of people who’ve already signed our petition calling on UK leaders to take hunger seriously.   

Man farming in Bangladesh

Tell UK political leaders to take hunger seriously

  • At this critical time, make sure your voice is heard. Sign our petition today calling on UK leaders to take hunger seriously.

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