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Efy24 foodinsecurityfivethings5

Food Insecurity - 5 Things You Need to Know

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In a world of plenty, it’s a profound injustice that child hunger and malnutrition continue to threaten lives.

“More than a quarter of a billion people are now facing acute levels of hunger, and some are on the brink of starvation. That’s unconscionable.” Antonio Guterres, UN Secretary-General

Here we outline five things you need to know about food insecurity, from its interconnectedness with malnutrition and hunger, and the multifaceted efforts needed to tackle these pressing issues.

1. Food insecurity is more than just hunger

According to the UN, a person is considered food insecure when they lack regular access to enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life.

It's different from hunger, which is the physical discomfort caused by not eating enough food. Food insecurity includes not being able to afford nutritious food, uncertainty about where your next meal will come from, and whether it will meet your dietary needs.

To address food insecurity, we must tackle these broader issues to ensure everyone has consistent access to nutritious food.

2. Nearly half of all deaths in children under 5 are related to malnutrition

Malnourished children, particularly those with severe acute malnutrition, have a higher risk of death from common childhood illnesses such as diarrhoea, pneumonia and malaria.

Bill Gates, a prominent advocate for global health, shares:

"I often get asked what I would choose if I could only solve one problem. My answer is always malnutrition. By tackling malnutrition, we can reduce one of the biggest contributors to childhood mortality”

24efy salifyanji
Meet Salifyanji. At just 18 months, malnutrition threatened her life.

3. The world is getting hungrier

Despite global efforts, the problem of hunger is on the rise. Conflict, economic shocks and climate change are the main drivers of food insecurity.

According to the latest Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), nearly 282 million people in 59 countries and territories experienced high levels of acute hunger in 2023 - a worldwide increase of 24 million from the previous year

4. The three drivers of food insecurity are interlinked and mutually reinforcing.

The causes of food insecurity are a lot more complicated than just not getting enough food. It is rarely caused by a single factor. Instead, it results from a complex interaction between shocks, underlying poverty, and other vulnerabilities.

  • Climate change affects food production and pricing, leading to economic instability and reduced access to nutritious food.
  • Conflicts disrupt food supply chains and damage agricultural infrastructure.
  • Poverty exacerbates food insecurity by limiting access to adequate food supplies.

These interlinked causes create a cycle that is challenging to break without coordinated, multifaceted interventions.

5. It’s a stark global inequality, but it’s easy to be part of the solution.

Tearfund works with local partners in 12 countries heavily affected by hunger and malnutrition, implementing initiatives that focus on good food, education, and improved agricultural practices.

Eunice Zambia2
Eunice Moyo, a local farmer in Zambia

In Zambia, for example, Tearfund’s local partner introduced climate-smart farming techniques and supports farmer’s groups to learn and implement them together.

Eunice Moyo, a local farmer, has seen significant improvements: "The maize I harvested last season will feed my family until next March. Previously, I collected 15 bags of maize; last season, I gathered 23 bags despite erratic rains. This change has ensured that my family is food secure and can enjoy three good meals a day."

The same partner also equips local nutrition volunteers to educate mothers around nutrition and food preservation, strengthening the health of their families and giving them better access to good food, year round.

At Tearfund, we are motivated by Jesus’ words that “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full” (John 10:10).

Today, food insecurity is robbing people of the fullness of life they were made for. Right now, our partners are outworking Jesus’ vision for fullness of life in places where food insecurity is most severe – and together, we can help further this vital work.

Food Insecurity FAQs

Isn’t global hunger too big of a problem for one person to make a difference?

Every little bit helps. Whether it's giving money, volunteering, or just telling others about the problem, what you do can really add up and make a big difference. Simple actions like helping organisations that fight hunger, or teaching people about the issue are important.

Why do we still have hunger and food insecurity when there's enough food in the world?

The main issue isn’t how much food there is, but whether people can actually get to it. Things like economic problems, conflicts, and problems in getting food from one place to another can stop people from getting the food they need. Also, a lot of food goes to waste—food that's made but never eaten.

Can improving local agriculture in communities like Zambia really make a difference?

Yes, helping local farmers and communities with the right knowledge and tools can really change things. When farmers use better farming methods that fit their climate, they can grow more food and make their communities stronger against climate change and economic troubles.

What can I do to help fight global hunger?

There are lots of ways you can help, from donating money to groups working directly on this issue to volunteering your time, supporting policy changes, or spreading the word in your own community. Small actions can build up to big changes.

How does helping someone with food insecurity benefit society?

Helping with food insecurity doesn’t just help one person—it's good for whole communities. It can make people healthier, help kids do better in school, improve jobs and money-making, and even break cycles of poverty. When everyone has enough to eat, the whole society can be stronger and do better.

Nourished for Life

End of Financial Year Appeal

Help fight child hunger and strengthen communities to overcome food insecurity.

can improve nutrition for a family by providing seeds and tools to grow good food

can tackle food insecurity by empowering 2 farmers' groups with sustainable agriculture training

can help fight child malnutrition in up to 8 villages by training community based nutrition volunteers