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Lecture 7

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McMaster University
Walter Peace

The Geography of Hunger 1. Introduction  Consider the following: o 1985 estimate (Brundtland Report) -730 million “did not eat enough to lead fully productive working lives” o 2002 FAO (Food and Agriculture Organization) estimated 840 million people suffer from hunger o 2012 FAO estimated 1 billion people suffer from hunger  Questions: o 1. Is there enough food to feed 7 billion people? o 2. What is the link between food and population? o 3. Why are so many people hungry? o 4. How will food be distributed in 2050 when population is estimated to be 9 billion? 2. The Nutritional Quality of Human Life  Hunger: the lack of basic food required for energy and for meeting nutritional needs such that an individual cannot lead a “normal”, healthy life.  Malnutrition: lack of essential nutrients, e.g., vitamins, minerals  Undernourishment: the lack of adequate food energy  Average caloric consumption: o Developed world 3,300 cal./day* o Developing world 2,100 cal./day* o Much of Sub-Saharan Africa/Asia less than 2,000 cal./day* o (1/3 of 200 million Sub-Saharan Africans undernourished – highest % of any world region) o * Note about averages  Consequences of Malnutrition o Limited physical/neurological development o Lower resistance to disease (morbidity, mortality) o Higher infant mortality rate o 11 million children < 5 years old die each year in developing world; 50% of these deaths either directly or indirectly attribute to hunger and malnutrition 3. Factors Contributing to Hunger  1. Population growth o At global scale, there is enough food at present, however,  Future food production increases limited by agricultural technologies  Loss of agricultural land  Availability of fresh water  (Unknown) impacts of global warming o Generally, advances in agricultural technology not likely to result in significant increases in food supply  2. Misdistribution of food o Disruptions to transportation systems (political unrest, military conflict) prevent food from reaching markets/distribution points o Marketing/hoarding (by those in power) *** NOTE: Physical distribution (getting food delivered) Vs. economic distribution (who can afford to buy food) ***  3. Civil Unrest o War – resources of nation diverted from food production; agricultural land destroyed  4. Environmental deterioration o As population increases, marginal lands (i.e., land of limited/poor fertility) brought into production; desertification – Sahel region of Africa; soil erosion; overuse – fertility  5. Poverty o Inequitable allocation of food related to poverty, i.e., many cannot afford to buy food o Many poor nations produce cash crops, e.g., coffee, for export markets instead of growing staple crops, e.g., grains for internal/domestic consumption o FAO report The State of Food Insecurity o “Most of the widespread hunger in a world of plenty results from… deeply rooted poverty.”  6. Structure of land tenure o Pattern of land ownership (tenure) such that most of the (best) land is owned by small number of elites, i.e., peasant masses do not own much/enough land o Subdivision of famil
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