Tuesday, October 18, 2011
Student Union Theatre
University of Connecticut
Storrs, CT 06269
It is a sad commentary on the ethical state of the world that at a time when we have immense power of technology and science to produce food exponentially and to wage war incessantly, and at a time when the rhetoric of human rights has become a staple of politics, millions of people die of hunger every day.
Lest we think that food insecurity just happens to be there, some analyses based on empirical data suggest that corruption, abuse of power and focus on short-term military security contribute considerably to the growth of food insecurity.
The ongoing famine of Biblical proportions in Somalia, where it is estimated that about 12 million people are more or less in the grips of death, illustrates the vicious cycle between militarism and abuse of power and food insecurity. Although the death sentence pronounced by famine is chillingly dramatic in the case of Somalia, as it is combined with a brutish state of constant warfare, it is by no means an exception.
Although not as dire as in Somalia, in the materially wealthiest country on earth, the USA, it is estimated that nearly one in four children live in households that struggle to put food on the table.
The United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) estimate that in 2010 there were about 925 million people undernourished. The figure is an improvement from 2009 when about 1.2 billion people were estimated to be chronically hungry.
At the global level, the lethal cocktail of hunger and poverty has been devastating. Consider the following facts: Each year, about 36 million people die of hunger or its ravages. Poverty kills a child every 3 seconds. More than 10,000 people die every day because of water unfit for drinking.
The profile of hunger, in regional terms, more or less reflects the inequality of the world. Of the about 1 billion people who are estimated to be chronically hungry, about 640 million are in Asia-Pacific; close to 265 are in Sub-Saharan Africa; approximately 50 million are in Latin-America and the Caribbean; about 40 million people are in the Middle East and North Africa; and around15 million people are in the Western (the advanced industrialized) world.
These figures are not just abstract statistics; they represent individual human beings who are psychologically and emotionally scarred and nutritionally starved by lack of food security. Indeed, more often than not, individuals who suffer food insecurity lose their very human dignity. For, what human dignity can one meaningfully talk about when hunger, like an atomic bomb, can reduce life to a very elemental state? And, how would it feel if represented in the figures were our loved ones: children, sisters, mothers, aunties, brothers, fathers, uncles, etc?
The conference is convened to raise awareness and foster global solidarity about the state of food (in)security in the world, and to examine what the human right to adequate food (should) mean.