What are the causes of hunger in the world?

If you live in a developed country where the economy, political terrain, and even the weather are great, it can be difficult to imagine and appreciate how people in other places with no food live. Experts confirm that humans produce more than enough food to feed every mouth on earth (about 7 billion of us). So how is hunger possible?

Extreme weather and climate change

Floods, storms, rains, droughts, heat, and other extreme weather can cause communities great destruction and wipe away farms. Some of these communities never recover fully again and begin to face many years of hardship.

Drought is now the single most common cause of food shortages in the world. In 2011, recurrent droughts caused crop failures and heavy livestock losses in parts of Ethiopia, Somalia, and Kenya.

Did you know?

In October 2013, a huge typhoon wiped out an entire town in the Philippines called Tacloban. Over 5,000 people died and everything was destroyed. In a scenario like that, it can take many years for the local people to recover from that, especially if the bordering towns and countries are not secure themselves to provide support.

— World Food Programme

Wars and conflicts

Conflicts, civil wars, and tension among tribes, religious and political factions often cause people to abandon their homes and jobs out of fear. People often find themselves cut off from the rest of the world because they are trying to flee. In some conflicts, fighters may also seize and control farms, sources of food and water in an attempt to get people to comply with their terms. Sometimes water bodies are polluted, and water wells are poisoned as punishment to communities that they perceive to be enemies. Young men and even children who do some economic activities are forced into fighting, and the result is a massive drop in food production and economic growth. Sometimes food aid is seized and directed to fighters and their families, leaving the needy people to suffer.

Since 2004, conflict in the Darfur region of Sudan has uprooted more than a million people, precipitating a major food crisis – in an area that had generally enjoyed good rains and crops.

— World Food Programme


Poor families and farmers often lack the funds to acquire high yield seeds, equipment, and the infrastructure to produce more. They are forced to produce only what their physical strength will allow, just to have a little to live on. They usually use family labor, and children end up working on the farms instead of going to school. As these children turn adults, they are also handicapped with knowledge and ways of producing more to secure their future. The poverty cycle continues.