Monday, July 11 is World Population Day, created by the United Nations as an international opportunity to focus attention on the urgency and importance of population issues. Edna Ogwangi, Rise Against Hunger Chief Impact Officer, shared her thoughts about the intersection of world population and the issue of hunger on a global scale.
Q: How does the issue of global population tie in with world hunger?
A: There are 795 million people who are hungry worldwide. Population wise, we know that we have a growing number of people around the globe, and those people must eat. I see Rise Against Hunger playing a key role in ensuring food availability and access for the estimated world population of 9 billion people by 2050.
Rise Against Hunger will help to make sure that enough people are fed, and that they have the necessary skills so that they can grow their own food. If they don’t grow their own food, they need to have skills that allow them to get jobs and earn income to buy food.
Q. How does Rise Against Hunger address key population issues?
A: The majority of our target recipients are young people–especially school children. There are more young people in the world than ever before. Almost 50% of the population of young people is in developing countries, and that’s where our food assistance is going.
This creates an unprecedented opportunity for us to create economic and social progress. By providing school meals, Rise Against Hunger helps boost school enrollment and academic performance. At the end of the day, these children have the education and the knowledge that they need to grow up, graduate, get jobs and be productive citizens in their communities.
Education is an investment. We also see it as an opportunity; a gateway to a better life.
Q: As the world’s population grows, how can we promote food stability?
A: Rise Against Hunger is championing food security issues and its sustainable development efforts will directly contribute to UN Sustainable Development Goal 2: “End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.” We have a solid meal packaging program, as well as meal distribution to our partners, but we know very well that you can provide the fish today, but make sure you teach people how to fish so that they can produce their own food and be food secure in their local communities. Rise Against Hunger views this holistic system approach as pathways to end hunger. So the “how to end hunger” is important. The “how” has really created an opportunity for us to make sure that our partners graduate, and to make sure communities are sustainable.
Q: Besides meal packaging, how can people be involved in the fight to end world hunger?
A: We need people to understand: there is no time to waste. The population is growing. We want people to join Rise Against Hunger’s growing movement.
There is no question that we need to continue to invest in appropriate technologies to enhance food productivity, reduce environmental damage and adapt to climate change. But if we’re going to achieve the goal of zero hunger, we have to change course. We must reduce food waste and spoilage, which squanders one-third of all food grown in the world today. In the U.S., most of that waste is at the retail and consumer levels. In developing countries, it comes from poor storage, transportation, and infrastructure.
At a household level, we need people to be aware and to utilize their food better. How can we be smart shoppers? How can we become a smart group of people who do not waste meals? We can be savvy and make sure that instead of buying a lot of food for the fridge that you later dispose of, buy just enough food and save that money to donate to someone else.
People have to see how they can end hunger, both locally and globally. There are so many local initiatives that can enhance our global impact.