Why children are hungry?

The concept of happiness changes with each person. For a young child, happiness is the time he or she gets to play, learn and enjoy with friends. However, today, millions of children across the world miss out the opportunity to happiness. How children enjoy childhood when issues like hunger, poverty, illiteracy and malnutrition follow them since birth?

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Of course, we do have enough food to feed the entire world.  But still 795 million people (one in nine people) in the world are hungry and nearly 400 million children live in extreme poverty. But have you ever tried to find out the reasons behind this occurrence? Here are some reasons as pointed out by the World Food Programme (WFP), the largest humanitarian agency in the world fighting hunger.

Once fallen into the trap of poverty, according to the agency, it is tough to come out of it. The aftereffect is that people become weak and less capable of earning enough income to support their family.

Think how worse the situation will be when it is added with an unstable market. The fluctuating prices and high costs of food items, no doubt, can make lives of poor miserable and force them to either sacrifice food or to get satisfied with a cheaper and less-nutritious option, which is the start of malnutrition.

Like the unstable market, natural calamities also play a huge role in hunger. Floods, storms and drought can cause crop failures, losses of livestock and massive destruction of crops. Climate change and deforestation also pose threat to farmlands. Apart from these natural reasons, hunger and malnutrition can be sometimes a man-made phenomenon like war and riots.

Similarly, lack of important agricultural infrastructure, has an indirect connection with hunger and poverty. Lack of proper roads can increase the transportation cost, absence of enough warehouses can make it difficult to store the food and lack of proper irrigation facilities can lead to shortage in water supplies.  All these together, can affect distribution and cost of food items.

Though these issues can be solved, it is a shame to reveal that we waste about one third of 1.3 billion tons of food produced in the world.

The most concerning part comes when hunger strikes children. Childhood is one of the most important stages of growth in life and ousting hunger at this period is very crucial for remaining healthy later in life.

The good news is that there is a chance for hope. The World Food Programme (WFP) and millions of other non-profit organisations across the world have already started their fight against hunger. Interestingly, the World Food Programme has already provided food security to 80 million people in 75 countries and the day when we free the 400 million children from hunger and say proudly that ‘child hunger ends here’ is not far from reality.


 

Akshaya Patra is not-for-profit organization working for the development of underprivileged children to eliminate hunger and illiteracy. The NGO in India is serving mid-day meal to 1.4 million children across 10 states of India.

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Resolving Global Issues Surrounding Children

Millions of children across the world are denied the opportunity to enjoy childhood and are still in search of basic necessities like food, education, shelter and safety.  Child trafficking, child marriage, poverty, malnutrition and child labour are some of the main global Issues surrounding children.

Child trafficking

Image Courtesy: cseindiaportal

Child trafficking affects millions of children across the world. Children are bought and sold for various activities including forced labour.  According to a 2012 report released by the International Labour Organization, 21 million people are trapped in forced labour across the world.  Of the total, 5.5 million are below 18 years.  Children’s Organization of Southeast Asia (COSA), Children of the Night, Called to Rescue, Love 146 and Maiti Nepal are some of the charities working to end child trafficking and exploitation across the world.

child_marriage

Image Courtesy: newzimbabwe.com

Similarly, more than 700 million women marry before turning 18 and about 250 million get into wedlock before age 15, according to a data released by the UNICEF in 2014. Though efforts to end child marriage have been going, the custom is still prevalent in several parts of India. The after effects include early pregnancy, school dropout, violence, abuse and exposure to HIV and AIDS.  Some of the charitable organisations trying hard to free young children from the clutches of early marriage include Girls Not Brides, Care and Breakthrough.

Poverty is another issue we need to take care of. About 1 billion in the world live in poverty, according to UNICEF.  Poor nutrition claims 3.1 million young lives every year. In developing countries, about 100 million children are underweight and 66 million primary school children go hungry to school. Poor nutrition can damage the immune system and increase a child’s risk of contracting deadly diseases. It can also affect learning ability, cognitive and physical development of children.

Feed the hungry children

Image Courtesy: brighterbrains.org

Some of the organisations fighting hunger and poverty include Action against Hunger, the U.N. World Food Programme and Bread for the World Institute. In India, apart from the government, charitable organisations like The Akshaya Patra Foundation, Annamrita, No Hungry Child, Annapoorna of Adamya Chetana distribute mid-day meals in schools. Initiative taken by these charitable organisations has helped fight hunger and improve nutritional status of underprivileged children in India.

It’s also shocking to know that about 100 million children are homeless and live on streets.  The reasons differ from war or poverty to harmful diseases. Some of the children are orphans, while some live in streets to support their families. Street children, according to UNICEF, are the most difficult to protect and provide education and care.  They face risks from various sources including the police and are sometimes murdered as part of the cleaning up of the city. Charitable organisations like Youth Advocate Program International (YAP International), Consortium for Street Children (CSC), Dreamz (Mumbai), Support (Mumbai) and Railway Children have helped improve the situation and given new meanings to the lives of street children across the world.

Akshaya Patra Inititative4

Image Courtesy: Akshaya Patra

In addition to this, millions of children today are trapped in child labour. Children are often forced to work in several dangerous environments.  A data from UNICEF shows that about 150 million children are engaged in child labour including mining, quarrying, domestic service or agriculture.

However, the number of children who work in India has come down over the past few years.  In 2011, only 43.53 lakh children aged between five and 14 were working compared to 1.26 crore in 2001, thanks to the work of organisations like International Labour Organization, The Child Labor Coalition and Bachpan Bachao Andolan (BBA).  Apart from them, the list of charities for children also includes UNICEF, United Nations and Save the Children.

There is no doubt that these issues have made children’s lives miserable and hard. But, the situation has definitely improved than earlier, thanks to the thousands of charitable organisations across the world that have engaged in charities for children.

If the good work of charitable organisations continues at this pace, we can soon completely free our children from these issues and return their rights.