Given the amount of energy we give to understanding and appreciating the amount of good food out there, we sometimes forget other countries that don't have enough to eat. Perhaps unsurprisingly, countries with poorly organized or repressive governments tend to suffer the most.
Obviously, the protests and revolutions in the Middle East have thrown that region into chaos. The World Food Programme, a nonprofit that works to provide food to the needy, now estimates that 2.7 million people in that area of the world are in need of food. They've called for emergency donations to feed the wave of people fleeing the region. The three-month $38.7 million campaign fears countries will cut off food supplies in order to force the support of the people during the conflict. To avoid that, the WFP will purchase food supplies and distribute them.
Though unaffected by the most recent conflicts, Somalia has become the poster child for a failed democracy. Lacking a strong central government since the 1990s, the country has descended into a protracted civil war with rival factions fighting for control of the state. One writer has declared it "the Most Dangerous Place in the World." Lost in the violence is the lack of quality food to the people. The WFP reports that it is currently providing food assistance to more than one million Somalis, both in the capital of Mogadishu and in dozens of camps across the country. A devastating drought has further crippled food reserves over the past couple of months.
North Korea remains one of, if not the most, closed regimes in the entire world. Reliable data is not available, but published reports suggest that the long-brewing food crisis there continues to worsen. Dictator Kim Jong-Il has been asking countries throughout the world for food, including poor African countries like Zimbabwe. Prior to the worsening of diplomatic relations in 2008, North Korea received more than 400,000 tons of rice from South Korea. The United States is reportedly weighing the resumption of food aid.
These examples obviously don't even begin to speak to the scale of hunger that much of the world faces. Nevertheless, it reminds us how lucky we are and why we should appreciate the food we enjoy every day.
If you would like to help, please see the WFP's website.
Photo by Matt and Kim Rudge