World hunger is on the rise for the first time in nearly a decade, according to a report released Sept. 15.
And the increase is not a small one — 815 million people suffered from hunger in 2016, a significant rise from the 777 million the year before. For the decade prior, hunger had been falling.
The United Nations report, “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World,” blames the reversal on conflict and climate-related issues such as floods and droughts in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, western Asia and southeast Asia.
The data showed:
• About 11 percent of the world population is affected by hunger.
• Violent conflicts have increased in countries already facing food insecurity issues.
• Stunting from hunger affects nearly 1 in 4 children under the age of 5.
• Child wasting — or suffering from acute malnutrition — affected 7.7 percent of the population under the age of 5.
About 17 million children suffered from severe wasting.
The numbers are staggering but the progress has been significant in recent years, according to Bread for the World Institute’s 2017 Hunger Report, “Fragile Environments, Resilient Communities.” Between 1990 and 2015, the hunger rate was cut in half and extreme poverty was cut by even more.
“The world as a whole is making unprecedented progress against hunger, poverty and disease,” said David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World. “But a large and growing share of world hunger is concentrated in fragile states.”
These places include countries like war-torn Syria and South Sudan. In countries ripped apart by fighting, more people die from hunger than violence, according to Bread for the World. By 2030 two-thirds of the world’s hungry will live in these types of places.
“The rest of the world has largely given up on some of the poorest fragile states,” Beckmann said. “But to continue to move toward the end of hunger, we need to mobilize increased support for peacemaking and development in the toughest situations.”
One way Southern Baptists are doing that is through Global Hunger Relief (GHR), formerly known as the World Hunger Fund. GHR-funded projects take needed humanitarian aid to crisis areas, address chronic hunger and meet other food-related needs.
It also reaches into the food-insecure areas of the U.S. — some communities have poverty rates of 50 percent or more, according to Bread for the World.
It’s for hungry people everywhere that seven Southern Baptist organizations — Baptist Global Response, the Southern Baptist Convention Executive Committee, the Ethics & Religious Liberty Commission, the International Mission Board, LifeWay Christian Resources, the North American Mission Board and national Woman’s Missionary Union — have partnered together to meet needs through GHR.
But Alabama is not immune to food insecurity — 27 percent of the state’s children live in poverty, according to the 2017 Kids Count Data Book, released by the Annie E. Casey Foundation. And one in 10 senior adults in Alabama experience food hardship, according to the Food Research and Action Center.
“The hunger needs in Alabama are great but the funds available to help are low,” said state missionary Jim Swedenburg, who promotes the Alabama Hunger Offering for Alabama Baptists.
The Alabama Hunger Offering sends 75 percent of what comes in from Alabama Baptists to GHR and that money is distributed everywhere except Alabama. In fact, 12 percent of all GHR hunger funds are from the Alabama Hunger Offering.
Alabama Hunger Offering
Twenty-five percent of the Alabama Hunger Offering remains in the state and funds are distributed based on need. To make a hunger fund request, email state missionary Kristy Kennedy, email@example.com.
To donate to the Alabama Hunger Offering, mail a check to Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, Attn: Accounting Services, P.O. Box 11870, Montgomery, AL 36111 and note “hunger offering” on the check. (TAB)
Global Hunger Sunday is Oct. 8.
100 percent of donations to the Alabama Hunger Offering and Global Hunger Relief go toward meeting hunger needs. For more information, visit www.alsbom.org/worldhungersunday.