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Politics & Current Affairs

A Billion Hungry People, Really?

The story of hunger and poverty is very complex. It is a world where those without enough to eat may save up to buy a TV instead. Where more money may not mean more food.

What’s the Latest Development?

Are there really more than a billion people going to bed hungry each night? The Poverty Action Lab wanted to look at the reality of this UN estimate from 2009. It went to rural villages and urban slums and spoke to poor people and academic experts. “What we’ve found is that the story of hunger, and of poverty more broadly, is far more complex than any one statistic or grand theory; it is a world where those without enough to eat may save up to buy a TV instead, where more money doesn’t necessarily translate into more food, and where making rice cheaper can sometimes even lead people to buy less rice.”

What’s the Big Idea?

It sounds politically incorrect but what if it’s not that the poor are eating too little food but eating the wrong kinds of food, depriving them of nutrients needed to be successful, healthy adults? What if they aren’t starving, just choosing to spend their money on other priorities? “Development experts and policymakers would have to completely reimagine the way they think about hunger. And governments and aid agencies would need to stop pouring money into failed programs and focus instead on finding new ways to truly improve the lives of the world’s poorest.”


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