What affects the amount of food we have?
Countries that experience food insecurity, mainly LICs, have a greater proportion of their population living in rural areas. The majority of these people work in agriculture and depend on this for their food and income. Food production is affected in these areas by drought, conflict, poverty and pests.
Drought is the main cause of food shortage. This affects both livestock and crops. Countries in Sub-Saharan Africa, such as Ethiopia and Somalia, have suffered droughts that have lasted many years. Soil infertility leads to salinisation and desertification in these areas.
Flooding also affects food production. These are often caused by tropical storms such as Typhoon Haiyan in the Philipines, which have a devastating impact on livestock and crops.
Climate change is also having a detrimental effect on many areas. Tropical storms, floods and longer droughts are becoming more common.
Pests and diseases
Food insecurity is worsened by diseases such as malaria and AIDS. This is because they reduce the number of people available for work.
The lack of storage facilities leads to pests such as rats and mice damaging the harvest.
Due to their warm climate and lack of investment, LICs are more likely to experience pests and disease compared to HICs. Insects, such as locusts can decimate a crop while cattle diseases are prevalent.
Food supplies in LICs are reduced due to poor infrastructure, such as roads to transport produce, irrigation systems to water crops, warehouses to store food and machinery that could increase cultivation.
Water stress occurs when annual freshwater supplies fall below 1,700 cubic metres per person per year. Water stress leads to significant challenges in producing food.
It is predicted that almost half the world’s population will experience water stress by 2030. Between 75 and 250 million people will live in Africa.
Water stress can also occur when water becomes polluted as the result of flooding, when rainfall is unreliable and when population density is high.
Almost half the world’s population will be living in areas of water stress by 2030 if climate change continues at the current rate. This will include between 75 and 250 million people in Africa.
Using water transfer schemes and irrigation, HICs will have the technology to overcome water stress, whereas LICs will struggle with this.
Conflict and wars can disrupt stop food production. People fleeing conflict struggle to feed themselves leading to hunger. 20.1 million Yemenis are experiencing food insecurity due to the conflict that started in March 2015.
Food can become a weapon during times of war with food supplies being seized or destroyed. Also, water supplies can be deliberately polluted.
Political instability and corruption can be a barrier to Internation Aid reaching its intended recipients in many LICs. This has been the case in Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo in Africa.
People, particularly those living in LICs, cannot afford to buy food that is nutritious for their families. This makes them unable to work on the land and earn money to support themselves and their families. Farmers that are poor are unable to buy fertiliser, tools or seeds which limits the quality and number of crops they produce.
The scatter graph below clearly illustrates the large proportion of African countries that have low fertiliser application and crop yield.