Hunger, as defined by Oxford dictionary, is strong desire for food, scarcity or lack of food, painful condition arise from need for food.
World hunger is the same, but on a global scale.
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The World Health Organisation (WHO) estimated that in 2016 alone, there is approximately 815 million people or 11% of global population that is considered to be living under the condition of world hunger.
According to the United Nations (UN), conflicts and war are main driving forces behind world hunger. It is estimated that 60% of 815 million people are living in conflict zones. Looking at Syria for instance, 33% of people are living with hunger and in Yemen, the percentage is higher at 60%.
Climate changes also contribute to world hunger. Droughts and storms lead to livestock failure and a shortage of food supply. This also contributes to discontentment, which can lead to further conflict.
As one of the 17 United Nations sustainable development goals, eradication of world hunger is targeted to be achieved by 2030. Several areas of improvement have been identified, such as:
Ensuring that those in developing countries will have full access to sufficient food nutrition
Doubling agriculture productivity
Improve income for small food producers
Increase investments in the agricultural sector and research such as livestock gene through international cooperation
End subsidies export
Impact Investing in Ending World Hunger
1. A leading organization in ending world hunger is The World Food Programme, which is a part of the UN. Though it is a non-profit organisation, funding for the organisation can be sourced through partnerships with the private sector, such as Unilever and Rockefeller foundations.
2. Blackrock Impact Fund invested in social developments that target ending world hunger and poverty. The fund avoided investing into sectors and companies involved in tobacco, fossil fuel and weapons. Over $200 million has been invested since the fund started in 2015.
3. Overseas Private Investment Corporation (OPIC) is a self-sustaining US government agency that helps US businesses invest in emerging markets. OPIC have supported farmers in Africa and provided them access to food ingredient and high technology equipment to boost agriculture productivity. In 2017, OPIC have invested $3.8 billion in various sectors related to impact investment. The corporation generated a return of $262 million.
Case study: One of OPIC’s partner, Aventura Investment Fund, have invested $3 million in Senegal. This goes to help local farmers who lack basic equipment and to improve the value chain. The programme was successful and as of 2017, Aventura have helped between 10 000 to 15 000 farmers in Senegal. The productivity level of farmers increased by 100% while their income went up by 200%.
What we can do to end World Hunger?
There seems to be a strong correlation between conflict and world hunger. What we can do is to persuade people to stop investing in companies that produce weapons and military hardware. We could invest significantly more in firms that focuses on agriculture. This would coincide with UN recommendation.