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?
News
ebookA unique anthology of reporting and analysis of a crucial period of history
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

Recruitment Genius: Digital Marketing Officer

£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join ...

Guru Careers: Graduate Software Developer / Junior Developer

£20 - 28k + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Graduate Software Develop...

Recruitment Genius: Graduate Trainee Teacher - Maths

£18000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This organization is the larges...

Recruitment Genius: Delegate Telesales Executive - OTE £21,000 uncapped

£16000 - £21000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: High quality, dedicated Delegat...

Day In a Page

Fifa corruption: The 161-page dossier that exposes the organisation's dark heart

The 161-page dossier that exposes Fifa's dark heart

How did a group of corrupt officials turn football’s governing body into what was, in essence, a criminal enterprise? Chris Green and David Connett reveal all
Mediterranean migrant crisis: 'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves,' says Tripoli PM

Exclusive interview with Tripoli PM Khalifa al-Ghweil

'If Europe thinks bombing boats will stop smuggling, it will not. We will defend ourselves'
Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles: How the author foretold the Californian water crisis

Raymond Chandler's Los Angeles

How the author foretold the Californian water crisis
Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison as authorities crackdown on dissent in the arts

Art attack

Chinese artist who posted funny image of President Xi Jinping facing five years in prison
Marc Jacobs is putting Cher in the limelight as the face of his latest campaign

Cher is the new face of Marc Jacobs

Alexander Fury explains why designers are turning to august stars to front their lines
Parents of six-year-old who beat leukaemia plan to climb Ben Nevis for cancer charity

'I'm climbing Ben Nevis for my daughter'

Karen Attwood's young daughter Yasmin beat cancer. Now her family is about to take on a new challenge - scaling Ben Nevis to help other children
10 best wedding gift ideas

It's that time of year again... 10 best wedding gift ideas

Forget that fancy toaster, we've gone off-list to find memorable gifts that will last a lifetime
Paul Scholes column: With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards

Paul Scholes column

With the Premier League over for another year, here are my end of season awards
Heysel disaster 30th anniversary: Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget fateful day in Belgium

Liverpool have seen too much tragedy to forget Heysel

Thirty years ago, 39 fans waiting to watch a European Cup final died as a result of a fatal cocktail of circumstances. Ian Herbert looks at how a club dealt with this tragedy
Amir Khan vs Chris Algieri: Khan’s audition for Floyd Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation, says Frank Warren

Khan’s audition for Mayweather may turn into a no-win situation

The Bolton fighter could be damned if he dazzles and damned if he doesn’t against Algieri, the man last seen being decked six times by Pacquiao, says Frank Warren
Blundering Tony Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

Blundering Blair quits as Middle East peace envoy – only Israel will miss him

For Arabs – and for Britons who lost their loved ones in his shambolic war in Iraq – his appointment was an insult, says Robert Fisk
Fifa corruption arrests: All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue

Fifa corruption arrests

All hail the Feds for riding to football's rescue, says Ian Herbert
Isis in Syria: The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of President Assad and militant fighters

The Kurdish enclave still resisting the tyranny of Assad and Isis

In Syrian Kurdish cantons along the Turkish border, the progressive aims of the 2011 uprising are being enacted despite the war. Patrick Cockburn returns to Amuda
How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields: Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape the US

How I survived Cambodia's Killing Fields

Acclaimed surgeon SreyRam Kuy celebrates her mother's determination to escape to the US
Stephen Mangan interview: From posh buffoon to pregnant dad, the actor has quite a range

How Stephen Mangan got his range

Posh buffoon, hapless writer, pregnant dad - Mangan is certainly a versatile actor