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close this bookWho's Hungry? And How Do We Know? Food Shortage, Poverty and Deprivation (UNU, 1998, 199 pages)
close this folder1. Introduction
View the document(introductory text...)
View the documentFramework: Food shortage, food poverty, food deprivation
View the documentLinks between levels of hunger
View the documentWhy hunger matters
View the documentOrganization of the volume
View the documentWorks cited

Framework: Food shortage, food poverty, food deprivation

Any attempt to reduce hunger requires a sound understanding of which people are affected. The answer to the question "who's hungry?" matters because hunger is both damaging and avoidable. This volume answers the question at three basic levels of social organization: it identifies hungry regions, hungry households within regions, and hungry individuals within households. Vulnerability to hunger is not distributed evenly at any of these levels, and whether vulnerability results in hunger also depends on the way people organize themselves in relation to hunger.

Differentiating between production shortfalls on a regional level (food shortage), inadequate food availability within a household (food poverty), and individual malnutrition (food deprivation) makes it easier to identify the hungry; more importantly, it helps highlight the type of problem leading to hunger. Production difficulties and distribution inequities require different types of solutions, and effectively combating hunger requires finding solutions that address the actual problems. Knowing who is hungry moves us closer to workable solutions.

The framework used in this book (see fig. 1.1) distinguishing food shortage, food poverty, and food deprivation does not assume that "the real problem,' lies at one of these three levels. We have not adopted a strong theoretical view that dictates that efforts to reduce hunger need to be focused primarily on one type of intervention. Instead, our framework is designed to call attention to hunger even when food is abundant, as well as to learn how hunger is avoided even when food is scarce.

Part of our task is to show the complex relationships between hunger at the different levels of social organization. The remainder of this chapter outlines the links between these types of hunger and it also overviews the manifestations of hunger in order to show that hunger has consequences, as well as causes, specific to each of the levels of social organization.