Special report: World food injustice - the facts on a plate

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

From London to Liberia, nearly a billion people are living a hand-to-mouth existence. Katie Grant reports on global hunger and finds out how these families get through the week

One in eight of the world's people goes hungry every day – that is 868 million people, more than the combined populations of the US, Canada and Europe – and here, courtesy of Oxfam's Food for All campaign to tackle global hunger, is the evidence on a plate.

These pictures feature families from around the world with their weekly food supplies. They range from Akavumu, Rwanda, where the Nyirazina family grows sweet potatoes, beans, sorghum grains and cassava shrubs to survive, and Vavuniya, Sri Lanka, where the Kumarapar family prepares meals of vegetables, rice and chicken, to Tower Hamlets in east London, where the Kerrs receive non-perishable items by their local food bank.

Oxfam says there is deep injustice in the way food is grown and distributed. The world's poorest people spend 50-90 per cent of their income on food, compared with just 10-15 per cent in developed countries. The World Bank estimates that 44 million people fell below the poverty line in the second half of 2010 due to high food prices.

The campaign launch comes just after figures were published last week showing that up to half the world's food is being wasted. According to the Institution of Mechanical Engineers report Waste Not, Want Not, while about four billion metric tonnes of food is produced globally each year, 30-50 per cent (or 1.2-2 billion tonnes) of it "never reaches a human stomach".

And it's not just rich countries such as the UK and the US throwing good food away; it is also being wasted in poor countries in the developing world. The difference, says Oxfam, is that, while food languishes uneaten in fridges here, in developing countries it goes to waste because of poor harvesting, storage and transport. In Vietnam, for example, a staggering 80 per cent of rice is lost between the field and the table.

The UN's Millennium Development Goals aimed to halve the levels of hunger found in 1990. To achieve this, the number of chronically undernourished people needs to be cut by 40 per cent to 500 million by 2015.

"The world produces more than enough food to feed everyone," says Kate Raworth, senior policy researcher for Oxfam. "Meeting the calorie needs of every person living with hunger would take less than 3 per cent of today's global food supply."

Brahim family

Northern Chad

Etta Brahim has seven children. A week's worth of food for the whole family is in the white bag. "The lack of food is killing us," says Etta's sister, Ashta Hamid, dressed in red, centre.

Mbunibya family

Dungu, Democratic Republic of Congo

Olivier and Miatadi Jeanne Mbunibya have five children, and live on a diet of peas, kaunga (corn flour), manioc leaf and palm oil.

Josephyan family

Armenia

The seven members of the Josephyan family must make a bag of wheat flour, 2kg dried split peas, 1kg sugar, 1l of cooking oil, 500g of potatoes and 500g of pasta last all week.

La Shari family

Shikapur, Pakistan

Husna La Shari used to harvest wheat and rice, but flooding last July means she now struggles to provide for her elderly husband and seven children.

Nyirazina family

Akavumu, Rwanda

Collette Nyirazina has half a hectare of land on which she grows sweet potatoes, beans, sorghum flour and cassava, but bad harvests mean her family is going hungry.

Miralieba family

Kaftakhana, Tajikistan

BiBi-Faiz Miralieba, her niece and four children subsist on a minimal amount of onions, potatoes, rice and bread each week.

Shiferaw family

Mogadishu, Ethiopia

Tsega and Wubalem Shiferaw and their daughter Rekebki with a week's supply of food, including vegetables, maize and sorghum flours, vegetable oil and a paste of spices.

Kumarapar family

Vavuniya, Sri Lanka

Seventy-year-old Selvern and her three daughters have a comparatively varied diet of tomatoes, potatoes, onion, chili, spinach, leeks, cabbage, pumpkin, rice, flour and chicken.

Kerr family

Tower Hamlets, London, UK

Ian Kerr is a full-time carer to his disabled son, Jay-J, 12. Physio costs force them to go to a local food bank for non-perishables.

Ismayilov family

Azerbaijan

The Ismayilovs have a small supply of flour, potatoes, oil and onions to see them through the week. Price rises make it "impossible for the poor to survive", says Tahir, far left, who is unemployed.

Blagnon Gnepa family

Harper, Liberia

The Blagnon Gnepa family live in a temporary refugee camp for Ivorians fleeing the violence across the border, and are given essential rations such as oil and grains.

Mudsingwa family

Gutu District, Zimbabwe

Three generations of the Mudsingwa family live together, their supplies consisting solely of nuts and maize flour that is turned into a porridge-style paste for every meal.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooks
ebooksA celebration of British elections
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Ashdown Group: Project Manager - Birmingham - up to £40,000 - 12 month FTC

£35000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: IT Project Manager - Birmingham - ...

SThree: Recruitment Consultant - IT

£25000 - £30000 per annum + Uncapped Commission: SThree: Sthree are looking fo...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant - Dublin (based in London)

£20000 - £25000 per annum + commission: SThree: Real Staffing's Pharmaceutical...

SThree: Trainee Recruitment Consultant

£18000 - £25000 per annum + Commission: SThree: Are you great at building rela...

Day In a Page

Fishing for votes with Nigel Farage: The Ukip leader shows how he can work an audience as he casts his line to the disaffected of Grimsby

Fishing is on Nigel Farage's mind

Ukip leader casts a line to the disaffected
Who is bombing whom in the Middle East? It's amazing they don't all hit each other

Who is bombing whom in the Middle East?

Robert Fisk untangles the countries and factions
China's influence on fashion: At the top of the game both creatively and commercially

China's influence on fashion

At the top of the game both creatively and commercially
Lord O’Donnell: Former cabinet secretary on the election and life away from the levers of power

The man known as GOD has a reputation for getting the job done

Lord O'Donnell's three principles of rule
Rainbow shades: It's all bright on the night

Rainbow shades

It's all bright on the night
'It was first time I had ever tasted chocolate. I kept a piece, and when Amsterdam was liberated, I gave it to the first Allied soldier I saw'

Bread from heaven

Dutch survivors thank RAF for World War II drop that saved millions
Britain will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power - Labour

How 'the Axe' helped Labour

UK will be 'run for the wealthy and powerful' if Tories retain power
Rare and exclusive video shows the horrific price paid by activists for challenging the rule of jihadist extremists in Syria

The price to be paid for challenging the rule of extremists

A revolution now 'consuming its own children'
Welcome to the world of Megagames

Welcome to the world of Megagames

300 players take part in Watch the Skies! board game in London
'Nymphomaniac' actress reveals what it was really like to star in one of the most explicit films ever

Charlotte Gainsbourg on 'Nymphomaniac'

Starring in one of the most explicit films ever
Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi: The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers

Robert Fisk in Abu Dhabi

The Emirates' out-of-sight migrant workers helping to build the dream projects of its rulers
Vince Cable interview: Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'

Vince Cable exclusive interview

Charging fees for employment tribunals was 'a very bad move'
Iwan Rheon interview: Game of Thrones star returns to his Welsh roots to record debut album

Iwan Rheon is returning to his Welsh roots

Rheon is best known for his role as the Bastard of Bolton. It's gruelling playing a sadistic torturer, he tells Craig McLean, but it hasn't stopped him recording an album of Welsh psychedelia
Morne Hardenberg interview: Cameraman for BBC's upcoming show Shark on filming the ocean's most dangerous predator

It's time for my close-up

Meet the man who films great whites for a living
Increasing numbers of homeless people in America keep their mobile phones on the streets

Homeless people keep mobile phones

A homeless person with a smartphone is a common sight in the US. And that's creating a network where the 'hobo' community can share information - and fight stigma - like never before