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

December 01, 2008

Nigeria: Oil Rich But Hungry

David Hecht

Twenty-five years ago Abdullahi Tijjani had a vision for Kuki, a village in the north of Nigeria he became chief of at age 14: "Hunger will become a thing of the past once we marry modern technologies and traditional farming," he told reporter David Hecht when they met in...

October 04, 2008

Stalking a Wheat Killer

Sharon Schmickle, Fred de Sam Lazaro

Ug99, a virulent fungal disease, could create a major food security crisis by attacking the world's second largest crop, wheat.

August 17, 2008

Vietnam: The Price of Rice

Jack Chance, Simon Dearnaley, Stephanie Guyer-Stevens

The doubling of the price of rice in Asia has given rise to what some have coined "the Asian Food Crisis." While some economists feel that this is a temporary price hike, others see that the devastation from the recent cyclone in the central rice growing region of Burma...

August 11, 2007

The Soybean Wars

Charles Lane

Paraguay is the fastest growing soybean producer in the world bringing untold riches to a very poor and corrupt country. The bean fields stretch far into the distance, consuming the horizon with waves of green leaves and a stink like dead animals from toxic agro-chemicals.

Towns have...

Tracy Boyer wins AEJMC Award for Honduras and the Hidden Hunger

Student Fellow Tracy Boyer wins a first place Award of Excellence from the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication for Honduras and the Hidden Hunger

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