The classic “Third World Disaster” image is that of pot-bellied hungry children. They are still with us, in obscenely high numbers – but there are about 60 million fewer of them now than there were in 1991. Development is working, and people are better-fed than ever before. There is even an emerging problem of overweight children in sub-Saharan Africa!
The Millennium Development Goal of cutting hunger in half by 2015 is within reach. In 1991, 23.2% of the people in the Developing World were undernourished; this had fallen to 14.9% by 2011. With a fair wind, the global target may be reached by 2015. We could get lost in numbers, percentages and targets, but these achievements are about real people, real families, and real children. There were 159 million underweight and undernourished children in 1990; this had reduced to 101 million in 2011, despite the explosive population growth of those years. Stunting ( a direct result of poor early nutrition) is globally on the decline – affecting 253 million children in 1991, down to 165 million in 2011.
As before, not everything in the garden is rosy. Progress is slow and difficult, but still very real, in sub-Saharan Africa. Hunger fell there from 32% to 27% from 1991 to 2011, and from 29% to 21% in respect of childhood malnutrition. However, it is still an obscenity that one in eight people in our world is chronically undernourished, while the dietary problems of the developed world are those of overnourishment and obesity.
ElectricAid has always targeted funds at agricultural development and food security. In 2013 alone, we funded 31 projects in this area with €360,000. Of these, 23 projects worth €246,000 were in sub-Saharan Africa. These projects funded animal husbandry and agricultural training, the introduction of new crops and modern methods, new systems of crop handling, processing and marketing, irrigation and agricultural enterprise. This is the slow, messy, but successful business of bottom-up rural development. Thanks to your continuing generosity, it’s working. Hunger is on the retreat, world-wide.