Hunger

Hunger

There are simpler, more horrid facts to explain the world’s relatively recent embrace of populism and authoritarianism than income and gender inequalities or climate change.

Hunger.

Good and simple statistics have been collected on hunger for more than a half century. Until 2000 progress against hunger was continuous and substantial almost worldwide. From 2000 to 2010 it was dramatic.

But in the last eight years the great human accomplishment of reducing hunger has slowed or reversed. It’s most troubling in Africa. Chad, Sierra Leone, Malawi and Zambia are rated as “alarming” and the C.A.R. as “extremely alarming.”

But the reverse in accelerated improvement is my no means limited to Africa:

Central America’s overall progress is as bad as most of Africa’s. The Asian subcontinent and former Soviet stans, as well as the Philippines and Indonesia are doing almost as poorly.

Particularly shocking is the slide in countries like the United States and the United Kingdom specifically with regards to infant mortality. There are many reasons for infant mortality and they vary significantly from society to society, but one indisputable factor is serious under nutrition and hunger.

The United States’ and United Kingdom’s infant mortalities are climbing. According to the CIA’s estimate for 2017, the U.S. suffers 5.8 infant deaths per every 1000 live births. This is worse than 55 other countries including Cuba, Canada and most of Europe.

Ten states in the U.S. have infant mortalities that exceed 7.4 deaths/1000 births, a dramatic increase from earlier this century (Indiana, Ohio, Delaware, Oklahoma, Arkansas, Tennessee, Louisiana, Mississippi, Alabama and Georgia).

The U.K. suffers 4.3 deaths/1000 births, worse than 40 other countries including most of Europe.

Current American administration policies restrict the formerly efficient collection of infant mortality rates, but based on the CIA estimate and the last CDC report in 2016 – in that single year from 2016 to 2017 – American infant mortality increased from 4.8 to 5.8, an increase more than 20%.

This while the world economy has steadily improved and the health and well-being of the most privileged and wealthy is stunningly better.

The World Hunger report is compiled by the German not-for-profit, Welthungerhilfe. The organization rightly lays the blame for the worldwide reversal in the battle against hunger with growing global insecurity:

“The number of forcibly displaced people is on the rise, and hunger is often both a cause and a consequence of displacement.”

But the painfully significant declines that attend countries like the U.S. and the U.K. are not from internal displacement. Welthungerhile’s policy recommendations are polite, but it doesn’t take much reading between their lines to see to whom certain recommendations are addressed:

“Create mechanisms to accelerate status determination so that people do not have to live with uncertainty for long periods.

“Prioritize actions to address the special vulnerabilities and challenges of women and girls.

“Scale up investment … to accelerate development in rural areas… Support people’s efforts to diversify their livelihoods and secure access to land, markets, and services. Promote sustainable agricultural practices…”

Income and gender inequality lead to simple, horrid pains like hunger. No Fox News report can spin hunger into something that isn’t painful.

If the pain continues, social anxiety will grow and political desperation will prevail.