10 reasons for hunger

More than 820 million people are hungry worldwide – and more than two billion people don’t have enough to eat. Why is that? Hunger has many causes. We inform you about the causes of hunger.

1 Land and hunger

People all over the world suffer from hunger. One reason is that land is distributed very unevenly and is becoming increasingly scarce. Small-scale producers are disadvantaged in several ways: Their acreage is very small and their risk of being displaced by so-called land grabbing is high. Investors often buy or lease huge tracts of land – without regard for the rights of the local population. Instead of growing food, the land is then used for other purposes.

2 Income and hunger

Poverty and hunger are closely linked: Those who are extremely poor and earn little money often do not have enough to eat. Plantation workers – for example in the tea sector – literally only receive starvation wages and cannot afford to buy enough food. Smallholder producers also go hungry because the income from the sale of the harvest is not enough to buy food for the family over the year or because they cannot store their grain.

3 Climate change and hunger

The climate crisis is shifting rainy and dry seasons, and extreme weather is increasingly destroying crops. Fertile land is being lost to erosion, salinization and desertification. To ensure that people do not continue to suffer the consequences of climate change, it is important, for example, to promote agroecological approaches and establish local seed banks – these facilitate the distribution of local seeds. When traditional varieties are used, yields are more stable in case of droughts, heavy rains or floods.

4 Agrofuels and hunger

Crops for agrofuel or biofuel are grown on millions of hectares of land – less and less land is available for food production. Worldwide, ethanol is produced mainly from corn, agrodiesel mainly from soybean and palm oil. Agricultural land used by small farmers is increasingly being bought up by private investors. Food that belongs on the plate ends up in the tank.

5 Women and hunger

Women are particularly disadvantaged in many countries: Although they make a significant contribution to agriculture in poor countries, they have less access to land, extension services and credit than men. Women have no say in important decisions. Their skills and knowledge are often not recognized. When it comes to providing good nutrition for the family, especially the children, they play an important role.

6 Soils and hunger

The quality of soils is deteriorating massively – worldwide, almost half of all soils are affected: The fertile soil layer (humus layer) is becoming thinner and thinner; it is becoming more difficult to grow food. The reason: agriculture, especially industrial agriculture, neglects soils. Agroecological systems, on the other hand, promote diversity above and below ground. Soils can better store or absorb water, and plants can root more deeply. When a diversity of crops is grown and the soil is planted with field wild herbs after harvest, humus buildup becomes possible. Ecologically sustainable agriculture is therefore indispensable.

7 Corporate power and hunger

Fewer and fewer, but ever larger corporations (e.g. Bayer-Monsanto, BASF, Nestlé or EDEKA) control the markets – from the field to the store counter. Rural producers and workers are largely powerless and unprotected against the “market power” of the corporations. Those who have the power can also influence politics in their favor. The result: land grabbing, agricultural toxins, environmental damage and the destruction of local food systems.

8 Speculation and hunger

When financial actors speculate on the price of agricultural commodities, they drive up the price of food. People from poor countries, who have to spend up to 80 percent of their monthly income on food, suffer the most. If food prices explode, we could see a repeat of the 2008 crisis, when the number of hungry people worldwide rose to over one billion. Meanwhile, agribusinesses like Cargill have profited by betting on rising prices.

9 Meat and hunger

Industrial livestock farming not only produces greenhouse gases that are harmful to the climate. The meat consumption of some exacerbates the hunger of others: Worldwide, 56 percent of corn production and 19 percent of wheat production is used as animal feed. The cultivation of soy in monocultures destroys forests and the natural livelihoods of indigenous and rural communities.

10. Precaution against famine

There is often no structured preparedness for famine crises. For example, governments could prevent famines by jointly building up sufficient food reserves. This would ensure that the population in crisis countries has enough to eat.

Current: Corona and hunger
Mass unemployment, disrupted food supplies and less aid money: The social and economic impact of the Corona pandemic is exacerbating the existing hunger problem in many countries. By 2020, 121 million people could be driven to the brink of starvation. As many as 12,000 people worldwide could then die of hunger every day, possibly even more than from the disease itself. Women and households where women are the main breadwinners are particularly at risk of hunger.

Stopping hunger in the long term
To ensure that people don’t go hungry, Oxfam is active around the world in a variety of ways:

Emergency Button Long
During crises and catastrophes, we are on the ground and provide acute emergency aid.
For example, we provided water, food and sanitation in the aftermath of Cyclone Idai in southeast Africa.
In crisis-ridden Yemen, we have been supporting people for over 30 years. There, we distribute cash, among other things, which families can use to purchase food and other essential goods.

Projects Button long
To enable people around the world to fight the causes of hunger on their own, we help them implement long-term measures.
In Burkina Faso, for example, we are working with experienced local partners to build grain stores that can be filled after the harvest. When food becomes scarce and expensive, cheap grain can be purchased from the store.
In Malawi, we distribute hardy seeds that produce harvests despite droughts and floods. We also train people in environmentally sustainable farming methods.

Campaigns Button long
We also campaign politically to create long-term solutions to protect people from hunger.
For example, we are calling on the German government to strengthen agroecology in poor countries – so that people have the opportunity to feed themselves while adapting to climate-related changes.


To stop the climate crisis, we are committed to global climate protection.
We also call on Angela Merkel to create a legal framework so that German companies are obliged to respect human rights abroad as well. This will ensure that local people are paid adequately to purchase enough food.

What can you do to stop hunger in the world?
Support us in the fight against hunger. How? Join us in our political campaigns or support our work with a donation. Even a small contribution can make a big difference.

More: 10 Countries Where Consumer Spending Could Explode

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