Summary: The OT Law of Israel presented the principle of solicitude for the needy thru concrete actions. Christians must adapt these tutorial lessons by the heart of Christ. The Church must exercise the principle of solicitude for the needy concretely.
The Causes of Hunger:
From NAMB—Issues & Answers: Hunger
The causes of hunger are multidimensional & deny the temptation of simple answers. Hunger does not result simply from the lack of rain or overpopulation. It is not just a matter of poor economic choices. Hunger is complex & often misunderstood.
A major contributing factor to hunger is war. Civil & international wars cause hunger through the disruption of farming, the destruction of marketing facilities, the displacement of people, & the decline of economic growth.
At the height of the 1984-1985 African famine, civil wars raged in five nations: Angola, Mozambique, Chad, Ethiopia, & the Sudan. These nations housed the largest bulk of those Africans who faced hunger.
National & international economic decisions contribute to hunger. In the United States, some people face hunger due to unfair taxes. The sales tax on food, for example, reduces the amount of income available to the poor to purchase food. Another example is the lack of governmental competitive bidding on the purchase of commodities supplied to welfare recipients, which decreases the amount of funds available.
Some government-controlled market economies create hunger when they encourage the growth of cash crops rather than food crops12. Growing cotton rather than grain may be good for a nation’s balance of payments, but it takes away the incentive for rural farmers to grow food. Additionally, global consumer patterns sometimes contribute to hunger.
The most fertile farmland in the Third World is often diverted from producing food for domestic consumption to food for foreign consumption. Coffee, cocoa, sugar, & tea are grown for the breakfast tables of northern industrialized nations, rather than cereals for those in impoverished lands.
Almost everyone recognizes that too little rain causes droughts & too much rain causes floods, both of which lead to crop failure & then famine. More & more people are beginning to understand the interrelated nature of the ecological system. For example, the Sahara Desert is being pulled 10 miles southward every year due to man-made causes. Overgrazing, over-cultivation, & deforestation have transformed once productive farm lands into wastelands.
Environmental mismanagement destroys natural barriers to soil & wind erosion, uprooting the very things that hold moisture & fertile soil in place. The loss of topsoil may account for declining crop yields.
Perhaps no cause of hunger is more hotly debated within some circles than the issue of the relationship between population & hunger.
Some people think that overpopulation causes hunger. They reason that too many mouths to feed exist in a world with too little food. Their solution to the hunger problem is to reduce birthrates, especially in nations with soaring rates.
A second group believes that hunger & economic insecurity cause overpopulation. They argue that impoverished parents often have many children in order to contribute to the work force & in hopes that some will provide for them in their old age. This group holds that the solution to overpopulation is economic security.