Is hunger a natural disaster, political problem or societal problem? How is it that most nations are yet to be free of hunger? Even in most developed countries, citizens are not totally free of hunger. For how long must we wait for humanity to be free of hunger? Could this be the universal law we violated as a people, which brought upon us the plaque of Covid-19?
There is a limit to what the government can do about the hunger that is ravaging us at this crucial period of our collective adversity. The COVID-19 pandemic effect is biting hard on the survival of mankind and many families are no longer able to sustain their basic needs. Too many families have reduced their food rations to twice daily and some to only one meal per day.
Hunger has been with us in Nigeria before Covid-19 and possibly will remain with us thereafter. Nigeria was ranked 56% by the Gallup Poll (www.gallup.com) in 2017 among countries with children living with moderate or severe food insecurity.
“Food insecurity is associated with increased risk of nutritional inadequacies, physical and mental health problems, and poor management of chronic disease,” explained Dr. Valerie Tarasuk and Alissa Klingbaum of PROOF, the University of Toronto’s food insecurity research team, to Food Tank.
What causes food insecurity? The reason people struggle with food insecurity is that they don’t have enough income. What is responsible for low income? The main causes of low income are; unemployment, education, inflation, poor utilization of resources, poor government policies or poor governance, overpopulation, debt, and corruption.
Should we analyze the above causes of low income? How is Nigeria approaching the major causes of low income which, we cannot boldly say, we have addressed?
Take for instance unemployment. The federal government predicated an unemployment rate in 2020 for Nigeria of 33.5%. This means there is a massive hunger waiting to explode.
For education, Nigeria allocates 6.7% in its 2020 budget as opposed to the 15-20% recommend by UNESCO. How do you grow as a nation when you are not investing in human capital — the greatest asset of any nation? The consequence is that hunger looms.
Inflation is on the rise. The annual inflation rate in Nigeria rose for the seventh straight month to 12.26% in March of 2020 from 12.20% in the previous month. What this means is that the purchasing power of consumers has worsened and their ability to afford the same quantity of goods and services is reduced, despite their current income level.
Poor utilization of resources is another huge problem that has confronted us as a nation for a good portion of our existence. The earlier we collectively, as a matter of urgency, address this problem, we will help prevent Nigeria from forever remaining the poverty capital of the world.
Poor government policies or poor governance is one of our greatest challenges. This is crucial to economic and political growth. Now is the best time to reflect on the performance objectives of government policies and to make a drastic and necessary change. For those in government, we demand that you stop grinding us, and instead govern- to protect us, to provide for us, and to preserve us.
Overpopulation is gradually leading us into food insecurity. Our population is exploding and we seem not to be able to plan ahead. The government must, as soon as possible, take into serious consideration our population growth and project into the future of these children by adequately capturing them in data, or our hunger will remain with us.
Nigeria’s debt is a huge burden on us all. The Senate recently raised Nigeria’s total debt to N33 trillion after its approval of a $22.7 billion foreign loan for the federal government. If we continue to borrow and service debt year in and year out without increase in production, how then do we think we will not go hungry?
The systemic corruption in our country is a part of us, but the further strengthening of the institutions and agencies will reduce the national pandemic that has ravaged us and continues to be one of the major causes of our mass hunger. While we cannot totally eradicate corruption, we can reduce it to the barest minimum.
What then is the immediate solution to our hunger which is a result of low income? The answer is Permaculture. Permaculture is an innovative framework for creating sustainable ways of living. It is a practical method of developing ecologically harmonious, efficient, and productive systems that can be used by anyone — anywhere. “Permaculture”, originally “Permanent Agriculture”, is often viewed as a set of gardening techniques, but it has, in fact, developed into a whole design philosophy — and for some people, a philosophy for life. It is a good way for individuals to have a garden where they can grow certain foods needed for the family without spending money on them.
“The world stands still before the hunger that assails peoples. As long as the world is economically unbalanced, it doesn’t think. I can picture it clearly. Two men are walking by the side of a river. One is rich, the other is poor. One has a full belly, the other makes the air filthy with his yawning. And the rich man says: ‘Oh what a pretty boat is that on the river! Just look how the lily flowers at the water’s edge’. And the poor man exclaims: ‘I’m hungry. I don’t see anything’. It’s natural. The day hunger disappears, the world is going to witness the greatest explosion of spirituality mankind has ever known. Never will men be able to imagine the joy that will explode the day of the Great Revolution.”
Quoted by J. Riechman in “Necesidades: Algunas Delimitaciones En Las Que Acaso Podríamos Convenir,” p. 38.
Article written by Ola Akinwe, a Philanthropreneur, Literacy Activist and Boychild-Social Revolutionist.