8

Alternative futures

Introduction

A comprehensive analysis of modern interventions that have reduced hunger would require a second book, but it is important to conclude this text with a review of some positive changes and optimistic scenarios. Understanding world hunger is, after all, only a worthwhile exercise if it suggests ways to eliminate it. This text has described the complexity of factors at a variety of levels which help to explain why some people in some places continue to suffer from hunger. That complexity, the hierarchies of interacting structural and proximate variables, means that universal ‘answers’ are unavailable. The thesis adopted in this text does suggest, however, the relevance of one generalisation. The relatively powerless lack food, so strategies that promote their ability to make and implement decisions about resources will enhance their access to food. Employing the concept of entitlements, we can say it is essential that the poor have both sufficient and secure entitlements. To that end, changes are required at all levels, from the international to the household. But such a statement is so sweeping that its insights are limited; it is more productive to consider how such alterations may be effected in specific places. If the spaces within which hunger occurs are social spaces then we must examine the spaces within which change can occur to eliminate hunger. This chapter reviews potential changes at the levels employed as a framework in the book - global, national, sub-national - before considering the relevance of several concepts which are important at all levels. First, however, another review of some statistics.

This book opened with an overview of the state of world hunger, which was a snap-shot of things as they are now. Here I describe how the situation has been changing in the last two decades. The picture is not all bad and it is important to recognise that progress has occurred in some areas; some positive changes have been discussed in various places in the text but it is worthwhile to consider general trends. The following list illustrates some of the positive improvements which have been made in the quality of life of some people in the South. Although not direct measures of nutrition these figures reflect an improvement in general circumstances, including nutrition.

-147-

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World Hunger
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Plates ix
  • Figures xi
  • Tables xiii
  • Acknowledgements xiv
  • 1 - A Framework for Analysis and Historical Overview 2
  • 2 - The Contemporary Nature and Extent of Hunger 17
  • 3 - International Perspectives on Global Hunger 36
  • 4 - National Perspectives 64
  • 5 - Gendered Fields 88
  • 6 - Sub-National Perspectives 111
  • 7 - Conflict and Hunger 133
  • 8 - Alternative Futures 147
  • Index 177
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