Issue

Food Insecurity

The United Nations defines food security as "all people at all times hav[ing] both physical and economic access to the basic food they need." For approximately 2 billion people throughout the world, this security is anything but guaranteed. Food security is a complicated issue that is susceptible to many forces.

Insecurity results from climate change, urban development, population growth, and oil price shifts that are interconnected and rarely confined by borders. It's an issue of global importance, and explored in-depth in the articles, videos and comments you'll find here.

In Nigeria, Africa's most populous country, a legacy of corrupt governance and an economy based primarily on oil exports has left the agriculture sector significantly weakened and millions of Nigerians hungry. And as poorer neighboring countries export more food to Nigeria in exchange for petrodollars, people there also go hungry. In 2005, thousands of children in neighboring Niger died of malnutrition, not because the country had had a particularly bad harvest, but because there was a food shortage in Nigeria, and people in Niger could not afford the ensuing higher prices.

A different threat is set to face the continent's second biggest crop: wheat. In 1999, 50 years since the last outbreak, a new and virulent strain of stem rust attacked Ugandan crops. Its spores then traveled to Ethiopia and Kenya before appearing in Iran last year. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations has since warned six other countries in Central and South Asia to watch for signs of the new strain while scientists in the U.S. are urgently working to find a resistant wheat variety. In India alone, more than 50 million small-scale farmers are at risk because they rely on wheat for their food and income.

In Tajikistan, the global financial crisis is forcing thousands of newly unemployed Tajiks to return from Russia. In a country already straining to accommodate Tajik refugees from Afghanistan, the government's chronic mismanagement has amplified the power and food shortages that permeate the countryside.

In Guatemala, income inequality is among the worst in the world, with indigenous communities at a particular disadvantage. In some regions, an estimated 75 percent of the children from infants to the ages of 6 and 7 are chronically malnourished. It is a startling example of food scarcity in a country a mere four-hour flight away from the U.S.

Asia faced its own food crisis as the price of rice doubled last summer. Some hunger experts are seeking out large-scale responses, including stepping up commercial agricultural techniques by introducing genetically modified rice and related products into the region. Other more localized efforts by universities and organizations are providing training in sustainable techniques for traditional farming families and minority ethnic groups.

Pulitzer Center grantees explore the connected causes and effects of food insecurity including efforts to secure the physical and economic access to food in countries most in need.

Food Insecurity was produced by the Pulitzer Center on Crisis Reporting in partnership with the Project for Under-Told Stories and Saint Mary's University.

Food Insecurity

October 19, 2016

Syrian Seeds Sow Hope for Global Food Security

Jennifer Duggan, Jacob Russell

A research center is rebuilding their seed collection in Lebanon after fleeing Aleppo in Syria. Their collection is of vital importance for global food security in a changing climate.

August 30, 2016

Solar Oven Use in the Dominican Republic

Makenzie Huber

Unreliable access to electricity and ever-increasing prices for gas keep almost half of the Dominican Republic from escaping poverty. Some communities are turning to solar cooking as a solution.

October 13, 2015

Hot, Hungry Planet

Lisa Palmer

What does it take to reconcile the threat of global environmental change with the need to feed a growing population?

July 02, 2015

The Last Hunt

Katie Orlinsky, Julia O'Malley

A look at how climate change is challenging Native communities across rural Alaska where hunting, fishing and foraging for food anchors cultures and economies.

June 08, 2015

The Geography of Poverty

Matt Black

The Geography of Poverty is a digital documentary project that combines geotagged photographs with census data to create a modern portrait of poverty in the US.

September 05, 2014

Feeding China

Lynn Hicks, Rodney White

China faces huge challenges in feeding its people sustainably and safely. Iowa and U.S. agribusinesses believe they have the solutions. Are they the right ones?

April 09, 2017|

Norway: Inside The ‘Doomsday’ Vault

Deep in the bowels of an icy mountain on an island above the Arctic Circle between Norway and the North Pole lies a resource of vital importance for the future of human­kind.

March 13, 2017|

Syrian Seeds Rescued from Aleppo

One of the world's most important collections of biodiverse seeds based in Aleppo, Syria, came under threat as the war reached its door.