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11 Approaches to Alleviate World Hunger 

Hunger is one of the most persistent and harrowing challenges facing people today. According to experts, hundreds of millions don’t have enough to eat. In the face of global issues like conflict and climate change, the food crisis is likely to get worse. What can be done about it? It’s not a problem existing in isolation; its solutions connect to things like poverty, war, gender equality and more. Here are 11 approaches that can help alleviate world hunger.

# Topic
1 Address poverty
2 Reduce conflict
3 Empower women
4 Build climate change resilience
5 Increase education access
6 Empower small-scale farmers
7 Improve soil quality
8 Protect clean water
9 Reduce food waste
10 Treat malnutrition
11 Address corporate monopolies

#1. Address poverty

The world cannot end hunger without ending poverty. According to Action Against Hunger, a food-focused NGO, around 648 million people live on less than $2.15 per day. Food is a basic need, but when a family’s budget is stretched thin, they must make difficult decisions about what and when to buy. The food they can afford often lacks enough nutrition. More than 3 billion people can’t afford a reasonably healthy diet. UN officials sounded the alarm in 2023, saying that the surge in extreme poverty in developing countries was linked “inextricably” to the global food insecurity crises. Poverty and hunger reinforce each other; you can’t solve one problem without solving the other.

#2. Reduce conflict

Conflict creates and reinforces poverty and hunger. The Center for Strategic & International Studies describes the relationship as a “feedback loop” that’s happening all over the world. Conflict-affected zones are home to 60% of the world’s hungriest people. There are several reasons why conflict connects to hunger. When there are competing groups, they fight over food, which harms civilians caught in the middle. Conflict affects the economy, too, which can cause food shortages. Conflict can also displace millions of people, which increases their risk of malnutrition. Food shortages and famine can also spark conflict, which makes an area’s food insecurity even worse. Reducing conflict is no easy task, but it’s necessary to end hunger.

#3. Empower women

According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, women produce 60-80% of the food in developing countries. Globally, they produce 50% of the world’s food. However, they face more obstacles due to gender inequality. If they got equal access to the resources needed to grow food and increase productivity, they could feed more people, stabilize economies and lift themselves out of poverty. The International Food Policy Research Institute names land and housing rights as a big area of improvement. Even in places where women produce most of the food, men control the land, make most of the decisions and trap women in exploitative relationships. Empowering women’s control over land is an important step in addressing hunger.

#4. Build climate change resilience

Climate change effects like extreme weather events, famines, floods and higher temperatures destroy farmland, pollute the water and the air, kill livestock, favor food-killing pathogens and more. Climate change resilience is vital to protecting the world’s food supply. Organizations like the UN World Food Programme suggest changes like land rehabilitation projects, reforestation, climate insurance for farmers and more sustainable energy access. Reducing greenhouse gas emissions is also essential, because while climate infrastructure helps, the agricultural industry can only adapt so much if the root problem isn’t addressed.

#5. Increase education access

When people get a good education, they can get higher-paying jobs that support higher food budgets. Education access is especially important for girls, who face unique threats to their economic potential. Education is also important for the people who grow food. According to the Food and Agricultural Organization, a study found that farmers who get four years of primary education can increase their productivity by 8.7%. Education can also help people choose the most nutrient-dense foods for themselves and their children.

#6. Empower small-scale farmers

According to Nature, more than 475 million of the world’s 570 million farms are less than 2 hectares. This matters because most people who live in poverty are small-scale farmers. Empowering these farmers would go a long way in addressing both poverty and hunger. Increasing access to fertilizer, seeds, tools and storage is important. Farmers also need the infrastructure that brings their crops to the market. Financing is a key solution, as local institutions often don’t want to give money to small-scale farmers. Financing empowers farmers to get into the market, which makes their farms more profitable and sustainable.

As part of his job, my partner has talked to hundreds of people experiencing homelessness. Hunger is often their main challenge. To stay alive, people resort to eating spoiled food, chewing gum, grass and even mud. Hunger is dehumanizing. It shrinks your world until all you think about is where your next meal comes from.

#7. Improve soil quality

The world depends on crops for human consumption, but livestock – another main food source for people – need crops, too. It all comes from soil, and when that soil is damaged, food production goes down. According to the BBC, the world is using too much high-quality soil too fast, so while there’s lots of land, not all of it can support food. Desertification, which makes food growth impossible, kills around 12 million hectares of land every year. Things like salinity can contribute to desertification. Soil gets saltier when water tables and sea levels rise due to irrigation and climate change.

What is desertification and why does it matter? Here’s our article on Desertification 101.

#8. Protect clean water

Without water, agriculture would be impossible. The industry needs over 100 times more water than what’s needed for personal needs, and it’s present in every stage of food production. When the water used for agriculture is contaminated, it can reduce food production and cause serious health problems. Wastewater is just one culprit. When treated, wastewater (any water affected by human activity) is useful, but if contaminants aren’t removed, the food grown with the water can make people sick. Unclean drinking water is a big contributor to malnutrition, as well. When children are malnourished, unclean water increases their risk for deadly waterborne diseases. According to UNICEF, poor access to safe water, hygiene and sanitation accounts for half of the world’s malnutrition cases.

#9. Reduce food waste

The world technically produces enough food for everyone, but literal tons go to waste. In high-income countries like the United States, 40% of the food produced is never eaten. Why? People buy more than they need. There’s food waste in low-income countries, although waste tends to happen during the growth, harvest and storage stages. Solutions depend on where food waste is happening. In high-income countries, individuals can buy less food, while grocery stores, restaurants and food companies can produce less food, donate food, find new uses for uneaten products and so on. In low-income countries, improved access to refrigeration and storage would make a huge difference.

#10. Treat malnutrition

Improper nutrition, which happens when people don’t get enough to eat or aren’t eating nutrient-dense food, causes malnutrition. “Wasting,” which is severe malnutrition, kills ⅕ of the kids who die under 5 years old. With proper food and clean water, these children would live. Treating malnutrition is part of ending hunger. Specific treatments vary on how severe a case is, but most people need to eat nutrient-dense, high-calorie foods, drink clean water and get additional vitamin, mineral and protein supplements. If a person can’t tolerate food, which is common for young children, they can get milk formulas and therapeutic foods, which are designed to treat malnutrition.

#11. Address corporate monopolies

Corporations wield immense power, and the food system is no exception. Seeds are a prime example. The seed system includes the development, management and distribution of seeds. In a perfect world, every farmer would have seed security, but things like conflict, natural disasters, gender inequality and administrative issues threaten that security. The power monopoly over seeds is a problem, too. According to research, just four multinational companies control 60% of the global commercial seed market. They have significant influence over the market, which leads to fewer choices, higher prices for farmers and IP protections that threaten innovation. Corporate control is making food insecurity worse, so to end world hunger, their power needs to be addressed.

Who is working to end hunger? Here’s our list of 30 organizations.

About the author

Emmaline Soken-Huberty

Emmaline Soken-Huberty is a freelance writer based in Portland, Oregon. She started to become interested in human rights while attending college, eventually getting a concentration in human rights and humanitarianism. LGBTQ+ rights, women’s rights, and climate change are of special concern to her. In her spare time, she can be found reading or enjoying Oregon’s natural beauty with her husband and dog.