Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Hunger in the Face of Plenty

One sixth of humanity does not have enough to eat and a child dies from hunger every ten seconds. More than one billion people worldwide are undernourished, reports the UN. The global situation is dire, especially in the poorest countries. The annual report, assembled by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (UNFAO), shows that the economic crisis has exacerbated the problem, leaving the world at its highest levels of hunger since 1970.

Since 2007, there have been riots over food in more than 60 countries.”

People are famished or undernourished, since they have no incomes and cannot care for or support their families; they are left with feelings of hopelessness and despair. That desperation can lead to tension, conflict and even violence when the foodstuff of life is denied.

In the better off West we do not hear much about world hunger in the news or media; not unless some celebrity pop stars decide to make a name for themselves and holds a concert, thereby appeasing a conscience and lifestyle based on wealth and privilege that most of the X Factor contestants only dream about. The latest celebrity to speck-out is Singer Melanie Brown who has urged the government to step up efforts to tackle poverty.

The former Spice Girl claimed some of the poorest people in society have been left feeling “abandoned”.

“The Government have got to admit there’s a massive problem here. We need to work together to change things,” the Mirror quoted her as saying.

Brown was speaking out after spending a week on a run-down council estate in her native Leeds for an ITV documentary, ‘7 Days On The Breadline’.

The show saw Mel B looking after five kids, aged six, eight, 12, 16 and 18, on a budget of just 264 pounds a week.

“I did it to make a point and show that just because you’re a celebrity, you can live on benefits. But even I was shocked by the scale of what I saw,” she said.

Hunger and access to good food is not only a problem that haunts the millions in faraway continents such as Africa or Asia, it can be found under our very noses in most of our towns and cities. I have mentioned many times on this blog about the hundreds who line up every night in locations around London for food hand-outs or what are called goody bags, in other words food parcels. For many this is becoming a way of life and the only way to survive in modern Britain the fifth richest nation in the world. One contributing factor must be the government’s severe and constant onslaught on benefits with the result that many are being driven away and into grinding poverty while banks and other financial institutions are given billions if not trillions; like pouring liquid gold profusely into a bottomless pit.

The government’s recent welfare reforms will force more vulnerable people deeper into poverty in the years to come and with the return of the Tories after the general election would mean a more stringent regime with tougher measures.

Many will say that the system overlooks millions and all over the world, some to a lesser and some to a greater degree. I will argue that the system of capitalism never intended to help the poor or weak, for it’s not in its interest or has it ever been and therefore the only cure to poverty is the complete abolition of this system that allows a child wherever in the world to first cry out with pain and then die needlessly of hunger and in the face of plenty.

1 comment:

Chris H said...

I was tempted to watch the living on the breadline programme but I tend to find those programmes condescending, patronising or just fuel for the Daily Mail reader type. Maybe I was wrong, dunno.

With events like Live Aid I feel they tend to allow us in the West to feel as though something is being done and gives comfort to politicians and others who hold the real power. Then starvation and poverty carries on as normal once the soul-searching dies down.

Good point about capitalism and the poor and weak - it's never been an aim or requirement of capitalism to deal with those problems because without people who we can label as poor and weak and who have only their labour, there can never be those who are rich and strong, ie the capitalists. It's demise can't come soon enough.

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