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Visualizing World Hunger and Food Scarcity

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Posted on 2/4/2014
Image of a child eating
Millions of children and their families go to bed hungry each night.

Oxfam recently compiled an interactive graphic to illustrate the disparities in food security in 125 countries.

Governments, non profit organizations and other groups around the world are working to end hunger. However, food scarcity is a complex problem caused by many different factors, some of which vary widely from one region to the next. Understanding the true scope of world hunger can be challenging, but Oxfam recently compiled an interactive graphic to illustrate the disparities in food security in 125 countries.

The Global Food Index

To create the graphic, Oxfam compiled data from several sources, including the World Health Organization. Each of the 125 countries studied was ranked on a scale of one to 100 on a variety of factors, such as the availability, affordability and quality of food, as well as the prevalence of diabetes and obesity.

The graphic displays each country's rank according to these factors. For example, Ethiopia rates poorly in both the availability and quality of food, as does Sierra Leone. Mexico, on the other hand, scored highly in terms of food availability, but was found lacking in nutritional quality.

According to Oxfam, more than 1 in every eight people around the world goes to bed hungry each night, despite the fact that current levels of food production and agricultural yields are theoretically sufficient to feed the world. There are several reasons behind this sobering statistic, most notably food waste by developed countries, the misuse of crucial resources and overconsumption in certain parts of the world.

Affordability is also a major factor in families' difficulties attaining food security. In the U.K., for example, approximately 500,000 people are turning to food banks due to the ever-increasing cost of food. Other factors, such as unemployment, lower wages and rising fuel costs are further exacerbating these problems.

Feeding Families

Many of the countries in which ChildFund operates were identified as facing serious challenges with food scarcity. The Gambia fared better in some areas than others in the Global Food Index, including food quality and availability, but many families living in poverty need assistance.

Poor rainfall caused food scarcity in The Gambia in 2012, forcing many families to make difficult choices. "With very little income, we struggle to afford rice from the nearby market," says Bennette, a mother living in a rural village in The Gambia. "We try and make sure that most of our income is spent on food, no matter how little it may be, so that it keeps the children going. We do not mind eating plain rice every day."

ChildFund works in The Gambia and other countries to empower communities, support local food programs and provide other resources to help families break the cycle of generational poverty. From helping fund smallholder farms to providing families with the means to grow their own nutritious, healthy food, ChildFund and its local partner organizations make a difference in the lives of families and children in need, but we could not do as much without your support.

One of the best ways you can help us effect real change in the world's poorest communities is to sponsor a child. For about a $1 a day, you can help us ensure that vulnerable children have access to food, clean drinking water and lifesaving healthcare they need to survive. Alternatively, becoming a monthly giving partner or donating to ChildFund's Emergency Action Fund allows us to provide aid where the need is greatest, in times of drought, in the wake of natural disasters and following other challenges faced by families living in poverty.