According to the US Department of Agriculture (USDA), food insecurity refers to the lack of
consistent access to adequate food to support an active and healthy life. Although hunger and food
insecurity are almost similar, they are entirely distinct concepts. While hunger relates to the individual
physical sensation of discomfort due to lack of food, food insecurity encompasses the limited financial
resources to sustain a food availability at the household level. The global food crisis adversely affects
societies in developed and developing nations, thus, prompting action from international government
and non-governmental organizations to respond with strategic and long-term interventions.
Global food insecurity jeopardizes the livelihoods of millions of people in vulnerable societies,
especially in Africa where the communities are impoverished, malnourished, and face death due to
hunger. The rising food insecurity threatens the achievement of several health-related Millennium
Development Goals. In the developing economies, a significant portion of the population, particularly
children face death due to hunger, malnutrition, and poverty-related cases annually. Many households
are too impoverished to obtain the food necessary to provide for healthy growth of children as well as
minimal activity among adults. In the global context, such a disappointing scenario points at the
collective failure to protect the interests of more than one billion people suffering the consequences of
food insecurity in a world of potential food abundance.
The objective of attaining food security has remained elusive not only for developing nations,
but for also developed economies. The only difference appears in the magnitude of the challenges and
the intensity and prevalence in the population. Developed economies circumnavigate the challenge by
providing targeted interventions such as food aids in form of direct food relief, food stamps, and
indirectly through subsidies on food production. These strategies have successfully reduced the
instances of food insecurity in these regions. Similarly, developing economies have undertaken strategic
interventions for food insecurity; however, the success rate is relatively low.
Causes of food Insecurity
The known causes for food insecurity include war and civil strife, political and social instability,
inequivalent macroeconomics in trade, constraints on natural resources, poor health, inadequate
education, limited human resource capital, poor governance, and natural calamities such as floods,
droughts and famine, and locust infestation. All these aspects contribute towards limited availability of
food at national level or insufficient access of food for individual and households.
A significant impediment towards attaining global food security, particularly in Africa and its
underdeveloped agricultural sector highlights the overreliance on rain-fed agriculture. Besides poor
agricultural practices, low soil fertility, minimal application of modern inputs and technology,
environmental pollution, inadequate pre and post-harvest handling, lack of product differentiation,
minimal value addition, and inadequate storage and preservation facilities hinder the realization of food
security objectives among many nations. Thus, agricultural production is subject to weather fluctuation.
The overall outcome of the rising poverty level in developing economies translates to perpetual food
crisis across the continent.
Lack of storage facilities
The dire need for food storage facilities for products such as beans, yams, and cereals points at the
extent of wastage that plugs developing nations into acute hunger. Limited accessibility to modern and
effective storage facilities means shorter life span for highly perishable foods. Thus, during time of
abundance, communities cannot pile up stocks to sustain them during time of constraints.
Consequently, a good portion of the population will not access adequate food supply to sustain healthy
Inadequate food processing
The lack of adequate and advanced food processing units in developing nations results to higher direct
consumption of harvest portions with little considerations of what is spared for future use. Processing,
in this context refers to the transformation of agricultural products such as fruits, from their natural
form to other consumable forms for the sake of storage, sales, and consumption. Processing foods
reduces wastages by increasing preservation opportunities. Food security advocates for minimal
wastage, thus making food processing a vital approach towards tackling food insecurity.
Climate change and natural disasters
A major cause of food insecurity across developing economies point at the occurrence of natural
disasters and rapid evolution of climate change that makes majority of the communities vulnerable.
These factors are more significant in regions that rely on rain-fed agriculture. Characteristic natural
calamities include droughts, floods, and landslides. Additionally, impoverished societies are less capable
to deal with the impacts of climate variability and shock. These events cause significant loss of
vegetation, disruptions on infrastructure, and loss of accumulated food consequently increasing the
prices of different food commodities. Besides, environmental degradation and loss of fertility in farming
regions pose significant threats to agricultural sustainability in many economic regions.
Impacts of food insecurity
There is a need for the global community to uphold the universal right that guarantees every hhuman
food. Food insecurity is such asensitive issue that requires a dynamic approach to tackle to ensure that
every individual and household has adequate access to sufficient food. To address this matter,
governments and non-governmental organizations are assuming various strategic measures to
accomplish the social responsibility for food access for every individual and household under all
circumstances. This calls for the adoption of stringent international goals such as reducing the global
figure under imminent threat of hunger by half in the coming decade. Most importantly, it calls for
natural global association including North- South collaborations and devoted efforts of all units.