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Seasons of Hunger: New Publication Offers Solutions to Cyclical Hunger

ACF’s latest publication brings the neglected crisis of rural hunger into sharp focus

The international humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger | ACF International announces the release of Seasons of Hunger: Fighting Cycles of Quiet Starvation Among the World’s Rural Poor.

Produced by Hunger Watch, ACF’s policy research and advocacy department, the publication focuses on the role that seasonality plays in the persistence of global malnutrition. Seasons of Hunger sheds light on the devastating link between predictable cycles of food insecurity and the prevalence of famine; the publication asks why so little is done when cyclical hunger is so routine, predictable, and preventable.

Most of the world’s poor live in rural areas dependent on agricultural and livestock economies. For these households, poverty, hunger and illness are highly dynamic phenomena, changing dramatically over the course of a year in response to production, price and climatic cycles. When acute hunger occurs, it is not typically due to conflict or natural disaster, but as result of the “hunger season”—that annually recurring period when existing harvest stocks have dwindled, little food is available on the market, and prices shoot upward. This results, predictably, in cycles of hunger that can be devastating.

The costs of overlooking seasonality are enormous: shrinking food stocks, rising prices, and a lack of income contribute to spikes in malnutrition, mortality, and hunger-related illnesses. In the report’s foreword, Robert Chambers of the Institute of Development Studies, University of Sussex, writes that “the situation cries out for action.” Drawing on field research in Malawi, India, Niger, Ethiopia, Ghana, and Namibia, Seasons of Hunger demonstrates that there presents a wide range of effective strategies for preventing seasonal hunger.

Through testimonies and case studies, the book traces the real costs of cyclical hunger on vulnerable communities around the world. “This book is a powerful corrective. It brings a new perspective and proposals for action that are new in their scope and focus,” notes Robert Chambers. “It shows how central seasonality is to the creation and deepening of deprivation.”

Publication Details

Seasons of Hunger: Press Dossier

[View]View Briefing Paper

This briefing paper argues that planning for seasonality is an important, though often ignored, principle of smart development. Most of the world’s poor live in rural areas and work in agricultural and livestock economies. For these households, poverty, hunger and illness are highly dynamic phenomena, changing dramatically over the course of a year in response to production, price and climatic cycles. As a result, most of the world’s acute hunger occurs not in conflicts and natural disasters but in that annually recurring time of the year called the “hunger season,” the period when the previous year’s harvest stocks have dwindled and little food is available on the market, causing prices to shoot upward.

Seasons of Hunger: Fighting Cycles of Quiet Starvation Among the World’s Rural Poor

[Book]Purchase [$17.95]

Every year, millions of the rural poor suffer from predictable and preventable seasonal hunger. This hunger is less dramatic but no less damaging than the starvation associated with famines, wars and natural disasters. Seasons of Hunger explores why the world does not react to a crisis that we know will continue year after year. Seasons of Hunger explores why the world does not react to a crisis that we know will continue year after year. Seasonal hunger is caused by annual cycles of shrinking food stocks, rising prices and lack of income. This hidden hunger pushes millions of children to the brink of starvation, permanently stunting their development, weakening their immune systems and opening the door for killer diseases.

About Hunger Watch

Hunger Watch supports ACF’s broader mission of raising awareness and engaging public opinion; packaging and delivering ACF field expertise, analysis, and recommendations to key decision-makers, institutions, and political actors; targeting hunger’s complex of underlying causes; advocating for humanitarian values and outcomes; liaising with academia to exchange scientific research and field-level investigations; and ensuring that vulnerable communities have a voice among international humanitarian deliberations.

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