The greatest peace movement in the world is fighting hunger

The greatest peace movement in the world is fighting hunger
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The world must not look away from the hunger emergency growing before our very eyes. The United Nations is warning that hunger is on the rise for the third straight year, with 821 million people worldwide not knowing where their next meal is coming from. 

While hunger is on the rise, humanitarian funding is going in the opposite direction. Donations are slowing as people are starving. The Norwegian Refugee Council says that halfway into this year humanitarian organizations have received barely a quarter of needed funds to provide aid.

Meanwhile, the civil wars in Yemen, Syria and South Sudan are causing massive hunger emergencies. Save the Children says 85,000 kids have died from hunger and disease in Yemen because of that brutal war.

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Drought in East Africa is leading to severe food shortages in that region this summer. If the world does not take action, people will starve to death. There are many areas where hunger is occurring, threatening lives with malnutrition. Yet, tragically you hear so little about their plight.

Lost in the news headlines are all the children in Afghanistan who are malnourished because of poverty and insecurity. UNICEF recently warned that in Afghanistan "22 out of 34 provinces are currently above the emergency level threshold of acute malnutrition. In 2019, the overall estimated number of acutely malnourished under-five year old children is two million, an increase by 28 per cent in comparison with 2018." 

What Afghanistan's children need is food to prevent the malnutrition from taking hold. 

No one hears about the children in Central African Republic who need school meals for nutrition and to get back in school learning. These are the programs that save communities, but often lack resources.

So, why are humanitarian operations not fully funded? They are not expensive in the grand scheme of things. They save lives and bring peace and stability to nations reeling from the chaos of hunger. Yet, there is plenty of money for military expenses, which leads to conflict and suffering. 

The money is out there in the world, it's just not in the right place always. Jan Egeland, Secretary General of the Norwegian Refugee Council, says “Let’s not be fooled into believing that the amount needed is too high or the job too difficult. It is a question of priorities. The world’s total military expenditure has increased to a whopping $1.8 trillion. The cost of closing the humanitarian funding gap and providing people with basic support equals to just about one per cent of this."

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How do we expect peace to emerge in our world when there is such suffering and lack and resources toward fighting hunger? We are certainly not going to win peace spending excessively on armaments. 

Every citizen can do something to stop this travesty. Your actions can be the example others need to join the fight against hunger.

During World War II it was U.S., British, Canadian and Allied soldiers bringing food to the hungry in liberated nations. After World War II it was the U.S. Friendship Train that collected food for the hungry in Europe, inspiring everyone to participate. At meals citizens were encouraged to feed a “silent guest," one of the world’s hungry. 

These actions, led by ordinary citizens, encouraged government leaders to step up their fight against hunger too. We need the public and government both engaged against hunger. 

What you do matters because the poor and hungry need someone to advocate for them. They are not getting they help they need right now because the world has not made it a priority. This needs to change.

The greatest peace movement in the world right now is feeding the hungry, and everyone can be a leader in this noble cause. We can reverse this alarming trend of escalating hunger.

William Lambers is an author who partnered with the UN World Food Program and Catholic Relief Services on the book “Ending World Hunger.”