“If you don’t have food security, you’re not going to have any other security.”
David Beasley, Executive Director, World Food Programme
The latest United Nations report on the state of global food security and nutrition is pretty discouraging. After years of progress fighting the causes of hunger and malnutrition, we now have an increase in the number of hungry people: over 820 million in 2017, up from 804 million in 2016, and highest in almost a decade. It has risen the last three years in a row.
Fighting hunger is difficult when the fighting is a main cause of it. The Global Report on Food Crises found that almost 124 million people in 51 countries faced crisis-level food insecurity in 2017, an increase of 11 million in just one year. Conflict was the main reason in 60 percent of those cases.
Hunger is used as a weapon and it’s considered a war crime. One need only look at Syria, where a seven-year long conflict has destroyed agricultural infrastructure, local economies, and supply chains and has left over six million people food insecure. In other places (like South Sudan) fighters have blocked desperately needed humanitarian assistance and attacked aid workers.
We may not think about the relationship between war and food security. We can’t stop conflict, but as experts in our respective fields we can make significant and innovative contributions to mitigate the effects of inhumane food-related acts. It takes innovative thinking, funding, partnerships, and a deep drive to do good in the world. It’s complex and difficult. Are you up for the challenge?