The Planetary Press is proud to publish this interview in partnership with World Hunger Day and The Hunger Project UK and encourages our readers to support World Hunger Day and their efforts to end world hunger.
Written by: Irene Naikaali Ssentongo, Country Director, The Hunger Project Uganda
World Hunger Day is on May 28th, a time to draw attention to the sobering fact that over 828 million people currently face chronic, persistent hunger – a sharp 22 percent increase since 2019.
That statistic alone might turn your attention to something more personal such as thinking about your next meal or which café to meet at later – my words are not here to induce guilt but to shine a light on a part of the world you might not hear about often.
In Uganda, where I live, the reality of a country plagued by hunger and poverty is hard to ignore. Hunger robs my people of their dignity – I don’t have the luxury to turn away, but instead, I embrace the opportunity to make a difference.
I grew up in one of the famous slums of Kampala city. My home was that part of the city where poverty, hunger, and crime were rife, but it is also where I learnt to be creative, courageous, and compassionate.
Deep in my imagination, I always conceived a world without hunger. My earlier life prepared me to embrace challenges and turn them into opportunities that would open a door into a more sustainable future. A future where hunger was just a story to be told.
Human nature thrives on sharing; there is enough for everyone, irrespective of geographical boundaries. My mother taught me this lesson earlier in life. She always shared the little food we had with neighbours. That, to me, was a humanist view of abundance. An abundant mindset that turns scarcity into opportunities.
But for too long, there has been greed. How can we expect individuals to win against hunger when the game has been rigged for so long?
Here are a few examples that come to mind when I think about unsustainable systems.
- Personal wealth is concentrated with just a tiny percent of an exploding world population.
- Population growth is higher in developing countries, while resource consumption and pollution is higher in developed countries.
- Climate change is destroying food systems in Africa and Asia, while the Global North creates around a third of greenhouse gas emissions.
World Hunger Day was pioneered by The Hunger Project to ensure that the world does not lose sight of the plight of our brothers and sisters bearing the brunt of world hunger and poverty. According to the UN, 20 percent of Africa’s entire population is facing hunger right now.
Ending hunger is possible. I see the possibilities in my work every day, in the resilience and ingenuity of people.
But we also need to cause disruptions in longstanding systems that are causing hunger to persist.
To end hunger, we see the benefits of amplifying local voices and leadership around sustainable food practices, such as growing local through the promotion of eco-friendly farming systems and promoting technology innovation to reduce food loss both on farm and during post-harvest.
We are promoting the use of community seed banks to preserve indigenous seed varieties as well as improve storage. We’re promoting value addition to increase nutrient content in food so that children may thrive. We’re raising awareness around the importance of biodiversity in enhancing productivity as well as working with communities to develop community adaptation plans to mitigate climate change impacts.
We believe this is how we create a world without hunger. It’s a longer-term approach that requires ongoing investment but truly represents sustainability on a global scale.
About World Hunger Day:
Founded by The Hunger Project UK in 2011, World Hunger Day (May 28th) is a day to unite with millions of people and thousands of organisations around the world to amplify the voices of those facing hunger. Throughout May, we will be recognizing the critical role of creating sustainable food systems to ensure that everyone has access to nutritious and affordable food, both now and in the future. And we need your help!
Why not host a Sustainable Supper with loved ones or donate a percentage of your profits? How about adding a suggested donation onto customer bills or amplifying the campaign through your networks? Whatever you choose, join us and play your part in ending world hunger for good.
Visit www.worldhungerday.org to find out more and follow us @WorldHungerDay too!