By Marco DiLeonardo
Marco DiLeonardo is a sophomore at the University of Pennsylvania studying International Relations.
Hunger, in my view, is the most important issue plaguing the globe, especially developing countries. On a pragmatic and fundamental level, without food, a person will die.
Although global hunger statistics demonstrate an overall decreasing global trend, currently 795 million out of seven billion people starving.  While the direction in Asia has improved, the African continent is ever-plagued by increasing levels of malnutrition. Large sums of money and food are contributed daily by developed countries to combat this problem. Aid, however, is insufficient and ultimately not a solution to this crisis. Technological innovations aimed at improving both the quality and nutritional value of food through bioengineering as well as modern agricultural methods to increase production and yield are of paramount importance. Modernizing infrastructure, including basic transportation, is a fundamental prerequisite for this to occur. In the ultimate analysis, nevertheless, none of these objectives can be achieved in the absence of a properly functioning democracy which upholds human rights.
At the root of starvation is poverty. Industrial production in the context of a society that respects basic rights of the individual is the only means by which wealth can be created and poverty eliminated. China is still regarded as a developing country and yet, the standard of living has been greatly ameliorated due to a boom in industry linked to exportation and trade with Western developed countries. The natural outcome of this evolution is the growing importance of basic human rights in that country. A Chinese middle class is emerging for the first time in history.
The proof of the relationship between freedom in the context of human rights and the source of poverty and starvation is most evident in the African continent, another developing area of the world. Widespread famine is rising. Fragmentations of governments, civil unrest, oppressive regimes, and a prolonged history of genocide are prevalent throughout most of Africa. While an abundance of a country’s natural resources provides the opportunity for wealth, the containment of poverty and therefore hunger cannot be achieved because of these factors.
Despite the extensive humanitarian efforts from developed countries, the only solution to conquering famine must reside in enforcing basic civil rights and the establishment of democratic rule. Herein lies the major obstacle faced by foreign aid to curb hunger. The help should be focused on stabilizing the political landscape, the establishment of civil rights and promotion of an authentic industrial revolution. Hunger and poverty are complex multifactorial issues that humanitarians must address by identifying the underlying components. In the words of Franklin D. Roosevelt: “Freedom means the supremacy of human rights everywhere. Our support goes to those who struggle to gain those rights and keep them. Our strength is our unity of purpose. To that high concept there can be no end, save victory.”
 "Hunger Statistics." United Nations World Food Programme. N.p., n.d. Web. 03 Apr. 2016.
Photo Credit: Flickr User DFID - UK Department for International Development
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