Climate change and global warming are familiar subjects in the world today. We’ve all read the articles and seen the news, so it is not something we are totally uninformed about. The same goes for hunger; we’ve all heard about famine in Africa and Asia and some of us may have even supported relief efforts. However, I still sometimes get the feeling that people consider it NOT THEIR PROBLEM. They feel that it is happening somewhere else and that they are not involved at all. People do not realise that changes to benefit both environment and their fellow human beings can actually begin with them. They underestimate the power they have to change the future.
The poor and hungry has always been there, but we need to understand that, because of our irresponsible treatment of our planet, the climate is rapidly changing, which increases the number of poor and hungry people in the world. This, in turn, means that more and more those of us who are still able must reach out to those who need help. In the end then, you see, bringing about change IS INDEED our responsibility and something needs to be done if we want to end this destructive cycle.
Recently an article published in The Guardian mentioned that, according to Oxfam, this years’ El Niño will be far worse than any other on record. They warn that: “At least 10 million of the world’s poorest people are set to go hungry this year because of failing crops caused by one of the strongest El Niño climatic events on record, …”  This supports the fact that the world is indeed in crisis. Despite the best efforts of numerous charitable organizations, hunger remains a serious global problem and now, with this climatic event, it would only get worse.
The Oxfam report continues to warn that “major humanitarian emergencies”  were allowed to take place in the past because there were no proper intervention. In 1998 El Niño caused droughts, floods and forest fires, which resulted in 2.000 deaths and billions of dollars’ property damage, and in 2011 failure to respond to drought caused the death of more than 260.000 people in Africa [Read more here].  Now, in the final quarter of 2015, we are looking at similar (and worse) situations:
- In Malawi floods followed by drought slashed the country’s maize production.
- Central America has suffered many years of droughts.
- In India the Asian monsoon has been reduced, while triggering drought across the east of the continent.
- In Ethiopia, a country known for its continuous struggle to feed their poor, an estimated 4.5 million people will need food aid due to low rainfall.
- The Indonesian government has declared drought in 34 of the country’s provinces.
- In Papua, New Guinea 2 million people have been affected by droughts in some parts of the country and severe frost in the highlands.
- The UK Met Office warned that famine could grip west Africa.
In addition to climate change and the unpredictable weather it brings about, there is, of course, other natural disasters: vulcanic eruptions, tsunami’s, earthquakes….it all adds up to the number of people in the world in desperate need of help. Have a look at the chart below and you will see how natural catastrophes have increased since 1980.As you can see in the image above, it is all a question of cause and effect; we cannot possibly think that, living on earth, using its resources (and often abusing it) will go unnoticed. Those who have it all, wants more and, in the process of achieving their own magnificence, they are destroying the world and, in time, millions of lives.
The point is, though it may be true that the negative impact of climate change and other natural disasters, not to mention violence and war, is felt more severely by those who already struggle to get by, it doesn’t mean you will always be safe from its consequences. An earthquake can devastate your entire life right now…drought and severe storms can cause havoc in modern cities too – water restrictions, increase in food prices, food shortages. I don’t need to tell you any of this I’m sure, we’ve all seen hundreds of news items about the natural disasters that took place over the course of 2015 alone, but sometimes a person needs to hear the truth in short, uncomplicated sentences in words that you can actually understand. The fact of the matter is, YOU MAY BE PART OF THE NEXT HUNGER STATISTIC, so perhaps, instead of wasting your energy on useless actions, actions that usually causes harm to both environment and fellow human beings, do your share to help those that need your support, while changing your habits and views of the world around you – take care of mother earth, treat her well and be kind to those who live alongside you.
We need to take responsibility for the survival of our world, not only by admitting that we are part of the problem and that immediate action is needed to bring change to secure survival of future generations, but also by stepping up and reaching out a helping hand to those who need our support NOW. Those who are already suffering severely. We cannot change the damage that has been done in the past, but we can change the future and we can start by creating awareness within our own personal space. Tell the people about the consequences of damage to the environment, share information about climate change and its effect on the people of the world.
As always I encourage you to start in your neighbourhood….have a look around and you will be astonished how many people go hungry every day. The fight against hunger is not happening ‘’somewhere in Africa’’ it is happening NOW, right here and you are witnessing the effects of climate change first-hand. Perhaps that will be the proof you need to take action; it will make it REAL for you, because I’m convinced that many people still see both climate change and hunger as being totally unrelated, as well as being ‘’someone else’s problem’’, yet the evidence is all around. It does have an impact on every living soul on this planet.
In the communities I work the evidence of climate change, for instance, are are all too clear and poverty and hunger is everywhere to be seen. Some of the places I support don’t even have running water or electricity; they receive no government subsidies and are totally reliant on donations from the public. These are mostly pre-schools and primary schools or orphanages and places of safety….the very people taking care of the leaders of tomorrow – the children. Some of these facilities are not even in rural areas, some of them are within city limits, close to the CBD and in neighbourhoods where ‘’ordinary people’’ live. Some of these facilities tried their hand at gardening, growing vegetables, but because of the lack of infrastructure and the extremely dry weather we often experience, water is unavailable so crops fail to thrive. Extreme cold in the winter months and lack of fire wood end up causing deaths in the very old and the very young. It is in places like these, almost on your doorstep, that you can make a difference. To be kind and giving, you need not travel half-way around the world, you start in your own backyard.
I know that people sometimes feel embarrassed if they consider their contribution to be inferior, you don’t need to worry about that….those on the receiving end is thankful for every little bit you are kind enough to share. Your efforts will make a difference, I assure, you and somewhere, someone will not need to go to bed hungry tonight.
The World Food Programme recently published 10 facts about hunger, which I summarized below [Information via @WFP]. 
- An estimated 795 million people in the world do not have enough food.
- The majority of the world’s hungry people live in developing countries.
- Asia is the continent with the most hungry people.
- In sub-Saharan Africa, one in every four persons is undernourished.
- Poor nutrition causes the death of 3.1 million children each year.
- As a result of poor nutrition, the growth of one in four of the world’s children are stunted.
- Approximately 100 million children in developing countries are underweight.
- If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry people in the world could be reduced by nearly 150 million.
- 66 million children of primary school age attend classes hungry.
- WFP calculates that $ 3.2 billion is needed per year to reach these children.
You can read the full article on WFP.org here and share it with friends. Encourage them to become involved with local causes, take them to places in your area where you know people are having a tough time to make ends meet…..show them the reality of this endless, destructive cycle we are caught in.
I believe that, despite knowledge being readily available through social media, ignorance could still be the downfall of society – stay informed and educate others so that they can be inspired to change.
And remember – CHANGE BEGINS WITH YOU!
- MILMAN, Oliver. 2015. Record El Niño set to cause hunger for 10 million poorest, Oxfam warns. [Web:] The Guardian. [Date of Access:] 2 October 2015.
- ROMM, Joe. 2015. Global Warming Linked To More Extreme Weather And Weaker Jet Stream. [Web:] Thinkprogress.org. [Date of Access:] 2 October 2015.
- TRóCAIRE. n.d. Climate change is the greatest injustice of our time. [Web:] Trócaire.org. [Date of Access:] 2 October 2015
- WFP (World Food Programme). 2015. 10 Facts about hunger. [Web:] WFP. [Date of Access:] 2 October 2015.