Have you ever been concerned or scared that you might not have food on your table for your next meal? Or on the contrary, does the abundant availability of food makes you unbothered with the problems of food security at all? If you have never been in a situation where you would have to worry about feeding your family, then you have never experienced food insecurity. But this does not hold for everyone living on this planet. A significant proportion of the world’s population does not have ready access to necessities like food, and this piece tends to discuss just that.
A lot of people might assume that considering we happen to live in the 21st Century, people might at least be over with the basic problems of gaining easy access to food. While this statement seems very optimistic, the actuality happens to be quite contrary to that. If you look at the facts and figures, particularly the ones provided by “Our World in Data”, the data estimates that around one in every four people on this planet is either moderately or severely food insecure. And amongst the overall population of the world, almost 9% of the people are severely food insecure. Though these figures might seem a bit melodramatic to some of the people out there, they happen to be nothing but the truth.
When considering how to define food security, social scientists factor in several components of a human’s need for food. Generally speaking, food security is thought to be the general availability of edible substances, that being food, and a person’s ease of access to it. But when the matter is looked upon holistically, food security is divided into five major components, as done by FoodSource. They namely are food availability, easy access to it, food utilization, the stability of receiving food, and overall malnutrition. Though there is no unanimous consensus about its definition and its components, this generally happens to be what social scientists use for their discussion of this topic. All five of these act as building blocks for food security, and therefore an aggregate score of all five determines your overall food security. After totaling the scores of each of these components, a level is assigned to each person’s food security. Speaking of which, food security of level 10 where all of these components ave zero scores is the highest peak of food insecurity.
A general misconception based on stereotypical assumptions of the people around the globe happens to be that food insecurity is limited to third-world countries, or specifically the famine-stricken countries of Africa. Though proportionally there is some truth to that statement, the wealthier nations are not at all prone to food insecurity. Because the United States of America happens to be the wealthiest country in this world, it presumably should have had barely any problems with food security. But the reality is contrary to that. According to the government estimates released by the Department of Agriculture of the United States, 12.3% of the households residing in America happen to be food insecure. That is around one in every eight people. Therefore, one could say that countries with lesser resources to spare might end up having higher amounts of food insecurity, but it is never necessary for the assumption to automatically get false when we start talking about richer countries.
If we dwell into the reasons behind food insecurity in communities much further, we will get to see several similarities between food insecure communities. Amongst the reasons given by the United State’s Agriculture Department, the key factors that might contribute to a household living in fear of food insecurity could possibly include low income, inaccessibility to educational services, problems with social networking, and limited sparable social capital.
Normally, countries where a significant amount of population lives beneath the poverty line, such factors are automatically present. For example, in the war-torn nation of Yemen, where sources of income are nearly inhibited, educational sectors are in utter despair, and there is barely any possibility of growing food domestically, the overwhelming population is automatically doomed to be food insecure. And considering the statistics coming in from independent sources relating to the worsening situation of famine over there, there is nearly no way of eradicating food insecurity out in a whim. Though there is no easy way of correcting issues related to food insecurity, countries enrooted with other major factors like war and corruption are less probable of making a fast recovery, in our case, Yemen.
This takes us to our next point of concern. The existence of such a grave cause of concern calls for a solution too. And with the availability of so many intellectual minds who discuss such issues, a layman might ask, why hasn’t it been solved yet. Having food on your table is a fundamental human right, and no one should be stopped from availing it. The fact is, food security has so many external factors interlinked with it that unless they are not uprooted from their core, food insecurity will is destined to exist. Several countries try to adopt short-term policies to help households facing food insecurity issues, with the most prominent of those policies being food banks, shelter homes, and food stamps. Many nations have also adopted policies like subsidies to wholly make food availability easier to households, but neither of these solves the problem. They might artificially make things seem better, but everything does not get glorious with such spending.
In the end, if a nation truly wishes to eradicate food security issues, they should opt for policies that are to combat issues that cause food insecurity in the first place. For instance, in the areas where access to food is difficult due to a lack of infrastructure, a government should prioritize creating sustainable forms of transport for food deliveries instead of providing a one-time relief package.