Political Factors -- Cause of Hunger in Developing Countries and International Response I. Introduction
Hunger is one of the long-lasting international problems that have attracted continuous attention from both scholars and decision makers. Indeed, the history of humanity is “essentially a story of peoples’ attempts to feed themselves.” Unlike climate change, hunger is not a recent problem that people have not dealt with before. Valuable experience is learned from countries that have successfully overcome hunger, or at least those which have reduced the number of hungry people dramatically. As G. Edward Schuh suggests, we know how to solve the world’s food problem and thus to feed a substantially larger global population than we now have. International organizations, like the World Food Program and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, are making every effort possible to eradicate hunger and poverty by using effective food aid, offering financial and technological assistance and sharing information and knowledge among developing countries. However, even though those international organizations have been trying all the right ways to stop hunger on the systemic level, there are still about 1.02 billion people going to bed hungry every day. This fact draws our attention back to the original question: what are the causes of hunger? According to the introduction by World Food Program, causes of hunger can be generally classified as natural disasters, war, the poverty trap , agricultural infrastructure problem and over-exploitation of the environment. The main argument I am going to develop in this paper is that among all of the factors leading to hunger, domestic political factors are the most important source, especially in Asian and African developing countries. Even though it has attracted less attention than distribution issues and the poverty trap, political factors are an important cause of hunger as well as a key element in eliminating hunger. On a domestic level, political factors includes two aspects: 1) political instability caused by domestic or transnational war, and 2) agricultural and economic policies proposed by state government related to the production and trade of food. In the rest of this paper, I will analyze these two different aspects of political factors respectively to see how they lead to hunger in developing countries and then offer feasible ways for the international society to solve this problem by political causes of hunger. II. Political Instability
The right to food represents the right to livelihood and thus our capacity to reach out for the wider world. People’s access to sufficient nourishment is determined largely by social, political and economic situations in the country or region they live. From historical experience, people can learn that war threatens the right to food. Agricultural development requires a peaceful and stable society. However, during times of domestic war, communities lose nearly all of their assets, so they are unable to generate alternative sources of income. As a result of conflicts, people lose not only access to food, but also their ability to return to pre-crisis levels of production, which causes long-term hunger and poverty. Since 1990, the proportion of short and long-term food crises that can be attributed to human causes has more than doubled, rising from 15 percent to more than 35 percent. Among all 1.02 billion people who suffered from hunger in 2009, 642 million lived in Asia and the Pacific region and 265 million in Africa. In most of these areas, emergencies and related consequences are triggered by conflicts. For example, since 2004, conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan, where people had generally enjoyed good rains and crops, has uprooted more than a million people, precipitating a major food crisis. In war, food is sometimes used as a weapon. The use of food as a weapon may be categorized under three headings:...
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