In this week’s “What a Relief!” podcast episode, host B.C. Dodge and IRUSA’s Nouf sit down with Mr. Vimlendra Sharan, who is the Director of the Liaison Office for North America for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). This is a particularly impactful episode, as it is dedicated to World Food Day, which takes place every year on October 16.
821 million people in the world suffer from chronic hunger. Numbers are a substantial component of this episode, and the numbers for hunger and malnutrition go beyond alarming—they’re heartbreaking.
Why are so many around the globe suffering from extreme hunger? Mr. Sharan explains that three main reasons are increases in conflict, climate extremes, and economic downturns. In countries where rural farming and agriculture play substantial livelihood roles, farmers and rural workers are dependent on climate. The intensity of the climate is not the only issue, however, because the frequency and intensity of droughts in certain regions plays a substantial role. When rain patterns shift, that takes a heavy toll on countries that are so dependent on rainfall and harvesting.
What’s perhaps most frustrating is that hunger is actually solvable. We can do something about it. While conflict and climate change make it difficult to counter, famine is not a natural phenomenon. Famine is the result of people not having their nutritional needs met. It doesn’t just happen. Mr. Sharan insists that the best possible route to countering hunger is to encourage local food production in these countries. This thereby equips those living in these countries with resilience, and the capacity to manage their livelihoods in the face of natural disasters.
So what is World Food Day? World Food Day is celebrated every year on October 16, because that is the day that FAO was founded back in 1945. Mr. Sharan explains that, “It’s a day where we stand to refocus our thoughts and energy, and bring our ideas together to think about people who do not know where their next meal is going to come from.”
One-third of the food we produce today is either lost or wasted. The food that is lost or wasted can feed half the world. Mr. Sharan is encouraging us to be extremely mindful of waste, and he is also encouraging local supermarkets and food corporations to donate their food to places like food banks. He says, “Every retailer, every individual, every government can do something.”
Mr. Sharan parts with this impactful statement: “It is incumbent on humanity to not look at working for the eradication of hunger as a favor we are doing for the poor and hungry, but as a duty and obligation.” World Food Day is on October 16. How are you going to celebrate?
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“What a Relief!” is the official podcast of Islamic Relief USA. Hosted by digital media specialist B.C. Dodge, IRUSA’s “What a Relief!” puts a human face on what’s going on in the world and how you can enact positive change in it. New episodes every week!
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