COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – May 28, 2021 – Today is World Hunger Day, when we take time aside to reflect on the global crisis of hunger – recognizing that nearly 790 million people experience chronic hunger – and celebrate sustainable solutions to poverty and hunger.
This past year, the pandemic created a dire situation regarding hunger and malnutrition. As early as July of 2020, the UN’s Lancet Journal shared that virus-linked hunger had led to 10,000 additional child deaths each month. And according to a recent UN report, at least 155 million people faced severe hunger in 2020, experiencing “crisis,” “emergency,” or “catastrophe/famine” levels of food needs, approximately 20 million more people than last year. Of that 155 million, 133,000 people required urgent food to prevent death from starvation.
Compassion International found hunger and malnutrition to be a significant issue for the children in its program and their families. Although some of Compassion’s field countries could easily be identified in the UN’s “hunger hotspots,” including Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Ethiopia, and Burkina Faso, food insecurity quickly became an issue in all 25 of the countries where the international child development organization works.
A lack of employment during the pandemic made it difficult (or in some cases, impossible) for caregivers to purchase food. And as global supply chains broke down, many communities experienced shortages in their food supply, which increased the price of food. When this happened, the poorest were hit the hardest. Because even when food was available, they couldn’t afford to buy it.
That’s what happened to Marie, a single mom in Rwanda. She lost her job as a hotel cleaner, and she suddenly found herself unable to provide food for her son or pay their rent. Unemployment was on the rise in her community, and job opportunities were scarce. Marie couldn’t make her rent for three months. When she finally reached out to Compassion’s local church partner and asked for help, she and her son hadn’t eaten in two days. Faustin, the center director, immediately arranged for a food package and financial support.
Marie explains, “We were rescued from the depths of hunger. Starvation would have forced me to look for options I would not have considered previously, such as prostitution. I was saved from these dangers.”
While Marie’s story has an encouraging ending (and Compassion’s church partners have delivered more than 14 million food packs to hungry families since covid began), the pandemic is reversing decades of progress made in the fight against poverty and hunger in low and middle-income countries around the world. Without intentional support, other stories might end with malnutrition, starvation, or chronic illness.
Sidney Muisyo, senior vice president of Compassion’s global program, says, “At a time when developed nations are beginning to recover from the virus, I fear they will not respond with urgency to the needs of the rest of the developing world.”
What might “responding with urgency” look like on this World Hunger Day? Compassion shares three ways you can make a difference:
- Get the facts on hunger. Learn how hunger affects children and their families. Educate yourself on the link between poverty and hunger. Read up on topics like food security or malnutrition. Consider sharing what you learned with those in your sphere of influence.
- Become part of the solution through support. Muisyo continues, “I cannot over-emphasize the urgent need to support humanitarian organizations that work with developing nations. These countries need help to overcome the increase poverty leading to hunger and food insecurity amongst the vulnerable populations. We must ensure that vulnerable children do not continue to pay the highest and most unacceptable price – such as hunger and disrupted education – as the crises escalate.” (You can donate here to provide supplemental food, vitamins, and medical care to malnourished children through Compassion.)
- Pray for Compassion’s local church partners. Compassion works with more than 8,000 frontline church partners all over the globe, and each church partner is trained to identify malnutrition and hunger and take immediate action to address it, like Faustin did with Marie and her son. Pray that these churches and staff members would continue to fight hunger in their communities in both powerful and contextualized ways.
To learn more about poverty, hunger, and Compassion’s solutions, visit compassion.com.