World Food Day is celebrated globally every year on 16 October in honour of the founding date in 1945 of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO). Events take place in more than 150 countries around the world to commemorate the day and to raise global awareness and action for the millions of people that go hungry every day. Since 1981, World Food Day has adopted a different theme each year to highlight areas of concern. Most of the themes relate to agriculture because it’s believed that only by investing in agriculture – as well as education and health – that the issue of world hunger will eventually resolve itself. In 2014 the theme was Family Farming; in 2015 Breaking the Cycle of Rural Poverty; in 2016 Climate Change; and this year the theme is ‘Change the future of migration. Invest in food security and rural development’.
When we consider that globally we are experiencing the biggest displacement of people since World War II, it becomes clear to see why the FAO would choose migration as their theme this year.
- In 2015, there were 244 million international migrants, 40% more than in 2000.
- People who move within national borders were estimated at 763 million in 2013, meaning that there are more internal migrants than international migrants.
- About one-third of all international migrants are aged 15-34. Nearly half are women.
- A large share of migrants come from rural areas where more than 75% of the world’s poor and food insecure depend on agriculture and natural resource-based livelihoods.
- Most migrants, whether international or internal, originate in the Middle East and North Africa, Central Asia, Latin America and Eastern Europe.
- In 2015, 65.3 million people around the world were forcibly displaced by conflict and persecution, including over 21 million refugees, 3 million asylum-seekers and over 40 million IDPs.
- In 2015, more than 19 million people were internally displaced because of natural disasters. Between 2008 and 2015, an average of 26.4 million people were displaced annually by climate or weather-related disasters.
While in South Africa we might not see the same scale of migration that happens further North or in other parts of the world; hunger remains an issue, despite the fact that we’ve actually improved on the Global Hunger Index in recent years. So, support World Food Day on Monday 16 October in whatever way you can, because anything that draws attention to a global concern and invokes positive action is another step towards solving the problem.