|The Hunger Trap (WFP)|
The relationship between hunger and poverty is often
First, there is the notion that hunger is only a
result of poverty. This notion ignores the reality that for most of the hungry
poor, hunger itself is a cause of poverty. Hunger is a constraint to
their economic and social development. Hunger and poverty have a two-way
relationship. They feed off each other. Ignoring this relationship can lead to
inappropriate or inadequate policy responses to the problems of hunger and
Second, it is often said that the most abundant asset the
poor have is their labour, which they can use to earn a living. However, if
hunger means that their potential labour power is ineffective, the poor do not
really have an asset and will thus remain trapped in hunger and poverty.
Third, assistance to the hungry is often viewed, wrongly,
as a mere consumption expenditure. If hunger is a constraint to the development
of the poor, its removal is certainly an investment in building self-reliance.
For the abjectly poor, the daily struggle of finding food for the family pushes
aside any consideration of long-term development. Food assistance can provide a
minimum level of short-term food security that is an essential first step to
move the hungry poor onto paths of self-reliance. Hunger is the first
threshold to cross on the way out of poverty.
Fourth, economic growth that provides lasting benefits to
the poor is the surest path to sustainable poverty alleviation. However, for a
large number of the hungry poor, there can be no growth without first overcoming
today's hunger. These people cannot wait until nutritional benefits trickle down
from tomorrow's macro-economic growth. And even if economies grow, the hungry
poor are the worst-placed to take advantage of it.