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Rising Food Prices Threaten World’s Poorest People

24,000 children die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Rising food prices could increase that number. 24,000 children die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Rising food prices could increase that number.

It’s hard for pretty much anyone sitting at a computer reading internet articles to fathom, but what if you had to spend your day struggling to get enough to eat? For tens of millions or people on earth, that’s a reality. Recently, global food prices have increased rapidly due to inflation, thrusting an estimated 44 million more people into extreme poverty. Is there something you can do?

We all feel the effects of inflation to some degree, but rising food prices are disproportionately felt by the world’s poor, many of whom spend half their income on food. Global food prices rose 15% from October to January, leaving scores of people wondering where their next meal is going to come from.

The World Bank has released data revealing staple foods like wheat and other grains to be at an all time high. For those who fall into the category of the “extreme poor,” it means the $1.25 US or less they survive on each day may not be enough. This year has been hard for some global producers of food, such as Australia, where crops were damaged by flood, and China, where this year’s winter crop may be diminished due to drought.

Now, leaders of the G20 countries are being asked to step in and help prevent an all out crisis, while leaders of other countries are asked to implement strategies to mitigate the unrest that a food shortage could cause. But there is something that all us regular folk can do.

UNICEF, the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund, estimates that about 24,000 children die every day from preventable, poverty-related causes. Meanwhile, a billion people around the world have money to spare.

If you’re thinking to yourself that you’re not someone with money to spare, ask yourself how often you buy something to drink when there is clean water in the tap. Or ask yourself how often you buy a new article of clothing, not because your other clothes are worn or ruined, but simply for the sake of appearance. Of course, buying clothes and lattes or juices is no crime – it simply means that you have money to spare.

Imagine you are traveling at sea on a small vessel. There are two people aboard for a month long trip – you and a stranger. You have more than enough resources (food, liquid, and medicine) to make the trip. Your fellow traveler, however, is in danger of dying for lack of those things. Are you obligated to share your excess resources? Or if you decide that, in spite of having had enough to eat that day, you’d like some extra snacks, are you justified in making a decision that might cost a human being his or her life?

That’s essentially the decision people of affluence make everyday. It’s possible for most of us to make donations to charities that help the world’s extremely poor without compromising our own quality of life. And yet, how many people do you know who donate regularly?

The question of rising food prices and the responsibility of governments and world leaders stepping in to help is important. But there are very few problems on earth where the common person does not play some role. Whether it’s environment, poverty, or politics, there’s something to be done by almost everyone. Hopefully reading the news doesn’t just inspire dread, but also spurs the question of how we can help make the world a better place. For more info on a couple of very simple ways to contribute to improving the lives of our neighbors around the world, check out this website: www.thelifeyoucansave.com. The site also provides a list of charities that have been vetted, and are recommended if you'd like to make a donation.

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If it's possible to save a child's life without compromising your own quality of life, should you do it?
Last modified on Thursday, 20 September 2012 18:03

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