How Climate Change is affecting the food availability in developing countries

12. 1. 2023
Štítky

Background 

Climate change is a worldwide phenomenon which means change in climatic conditions throughout the world due to the increase in carbon emissions created by various sources such as burning of coal, automobiles etc. It has been impacting the whole world at a wider scale and has become a part of an emergency. It is also one of the biggest reasons behind food scarcity and lack of food available in developing countries/ continents such as Africa, Asia etc. It is not only developing these countries/ continents but the whole world however countries like the United States of America, Germany etc. are less affected due to their strong economic and financial background. The rise of unpredictable weather conditions leads to many catastrophically environmental hazards such as damage to main crops, floods, and rise in global temperatures. melting of ice caps etc. All of these conditions along with many others are affecting the whole world and are expected to increase year by year if the governments, institutions do not work on cutting down carbon emissions. 

Problem

Global warming or climate change are not only the main contributing factors towards affecting plants and animals, but they are also the main reason behind the rise in intensity of storms. These storms come in forms like hurricanes, floods which were recently seen around the southeast coast of the United States of America and impact the severity of monsoon seasons in Asia and Africa(Worlddata, 2022). This year in Africa saw one of the biggest droughts throughout many countries and thousands of lives were lost due to that (Ellerbeck, 2022). Similarly In Asian,countries like India experienced very less rainfall which impacted one of the major crops- Wheat resulting in higher prices across the country and leaving many people starving(Ground Report, 2022).As the temperatures continue to rise due to the climate change, there will be a constant pressure on the life expectancy of people in developing countries. 

Increase in the amounts of rain and winds as well as the constant change in weather conditions can bring a serious number of complications for people. In Asia, almost half of the world’s population lives by the areas which are majorly affected by monsoon and most of them are subsistence farmers whose livelihood is highly dependent on the arrival and departure of monsoon season as it is a vital factor for their crops to feed themselves. During June and October, when these areas experience too little rain, there are more chances for shortages of food and drinking water to develop leading to rise in Famine. However, as the climate change is more of a culprit for unpredictable weather conditions, having too much rain in the season when it’s not meant to, leads to flooding of essential crops and houses causing a major destruction. Hence why, the livelihoods, water security, food security and energy security of most of the Asian countries are all dependent on the expected volume and timely arrival of monsoon season. An analysis done by geological scientists shows that nearly 21 million people worldwide are heavily affected by the floods each and every year. On the other hand, where people, animals and plants are dependent on water, are experiencing one of the biggest drought seasons which is why drought is named as the most common natural disaster and the main contributor towards famine in Africa continent. 

Food Distribution

Food distribution means the way food and water is transported to people from one place to the other. India is on track to become one of the most populous countries in the world which means feeding all those people is becoming more difficult day by day. It’s not just a problem in India, it is perhaps a global problem majorly affecting countries like Vietnam, China, Thailand, Indonesia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan, Kenya, Somalia etc. Due to the climate change resulting in destruction of crops around the world, the problem is becoming bigger day by day with a record number of deaths per year. Poorer countries situated within Sub- Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia who are lacking in their home-grown crops to feed people are turning into dependency of importing food from other countries. This in turn is causing a political and economic storm by injecting higher inflation and rise in national debt which governments are scrambling to tackle (Favas, 2021). 

Another contributing factor towards uneven food distribution within countries is- slow and inefficient transportation routes within central business areas to regional areas. Countries like India where central business areas also known as city centers are filled with offices, commercial buildings as well as residential buildings; it is impossible to have fields with crops in those areas. Hence, the food is majorly supplied through regional areas which doesn’t guarantee freshness as the ways of getting to city centers are always jammed and restricted during daytime hours by the government. It results in 20-30% of the food getting spoiled depending on weather conditions which results in an increase in prices eventually affecting poor people’s purchasing power. Moreover, if countries are under war zones such as Ukraine against Russia, Palestine against Israel and unrest in the middle east area; it results in more road closures eventually affecting normal citizens. It was recorded that Ukraine delivers 6.26 million tons of wheat to mostly African countries who have been struggling to feed their people even one meal a day due to the ongoing war (Argus Media, 2022). Black Sea, which was the major port until recently, was blocked by Russian forces resulting in halt of all the food grain as well as other essential exports (Khorsandi, 2022). All of this leads to a greater demand for food within smaller developing countries who could be supported by International Food Aid Organizations by having better access to food storage facilities which can provide short term solutions for countries struggling with specific climate crises. Governments can also play a vital role in supporting their countries by investing more in local produce and providing education platforms/ facilities to make people aware of the alternatives. This can help cut down imports meaning less dependence on other nations and have enough supplies of food when is needed most. 

Importance of Water

Southeast Asian countries are one of the major growers of rice in the whole world. Rice is a staple ingredient of their cuisine due to the favorable weather conditions for that crop. Rice, which is grown in paddy fields, requires a lot more water than any other crops which is why monsoon seasons play an important role for that crop. In order to feed all the people and have enough to sustain for longer periods of time, theory suggests having a good monsoon is a key. A good monsoon also brings economic prosperity for farmers and avoids the risks of having famine. What it suggests is that more water is more food while less water is less food. Generally Southeast Asian countries' weather is predictable as they only have two seasons- dry and wet. However, due to global warming; the weather predictions have become harder to make and unwanted rain is becoming a danger for those countries. Nearly all the Southeast Asian countries are situated by the coast which means a rising level in water is an alarming sign for tsunami, cyclones and floods which are catastrophic in nature as seen in (Lotha, 2022). 

In the past decade, severe climatic disasters have brought exceptional pain to both citizens as well as governments by inflicting massive financial and life losses across many countries. In addition to that, food supplies of these countries also took a strong hit by floods and droughts destroying the whole region on a regular basis. Precipitation which means water particles in air are crucial for agriculture as all plants need their availability in order to survive. To maintain this level, a regular rain pattern is helpful however too much or too little rainfall are a danger. An uneven pattern of rain can not only affect the quality but also the whole crop resulting in destruction at massive scale. Monsoons are known to bring larger amounts of rain in a very short amount of time which causes flash flooding and mudslides. In predictable times, it is manageable however if the rain intensifies, it will also directly affect the severity of flash flooding and mudslides. On the other hand, too little rainfall is a sign of drought. This will become a common phenomenon as climate change is directly associated with the rise in temperatures across the whole world. Africa continent has been one of the biggest culprits of draughts and for them, this problem is never ending. 2022 marked one of the worst years for this continent as the areas covered by drought tripled (World Food Program, 2022). This meant that people didn’t have enough water to grow crops, resulting in shortage of food not only for human beings but also for animals who are dependent on this. People in some countries traveled miles and for days in search of food but were unlucky to have anything available in order to have even one meal a day. Not for profit organizations like Oxfam, Cry etc. have been on the frontline for many years trying to help these countries and people however the effect climate change is causing day by day is unmanageable. Extreme rainfalls, unbearable summers and short spells of extreme colds such as the Arctic storm in the USA are all part of climate change which humankind is struggling with (Stillman, 2022). Although the effect is more severe in developing countries, now even developed countries are getting caught under its arms. Europe and the United States of America collectively saw a rise of 30-40% in food prices due to unfavorable weather conditions, disruption in food distribution methods and war between Ukraine and Russia (Wood, 2022).

Conclusion & Solution

Since the early 20th century, technology has been changing the lives of people across the whole world. Companies like Meta, Google have changed the world and our way of connecting and searching for things. What it has also done is provided a platform for smaller companies who have been working on innovations to become more visible to key stakeholders who are willing to take risks for betterment of our future. One of the biggest organization- Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation is helping the world to change for good by providing funding to the businesses who are innovating in the agricultural sector(Gates, 2022). On the other hand, governments of developing countries are encouraged to invest in buildings and efficient infrastructure which can maintain a stable supply of food during climate crisis. Farmers in developing countries do not have sufficient technology which is affecting their yield growth. On an average, farmers are only able to produce 20% of the total crop due to lack of awareness for seeds and fertilizers as well as insufficient machinery. Moreover, governments in these countries doesn’t provide enough support to farmers which leads to lack of mass production. Mass production if stored in right facilities can be a game changer during crisis times and help provide food for people in need. In developed countries, governments have been inclining towards Biotechnologies which can help fix impoverishment. Genetically modified crops can increase the production levels by 50% to meet the demand of growing population (Jevtic, 2017). Even simple changes such as spacing out the seeds planted, will result in crops having an equal access to soil nutrients, sun exposure and precipitation. These solutions along with the others already implemented by developed nations can help developing countries fight the climate crisis. Developing countries are at war with climate change and so far they have been losing so it is high time for them to step up while for developed nations, it is their responsibility to share technology and other knowledge in order for the whole world to survive; not just them. 

 

Bibliography:

Data, W. (2022). Recent hurricanes in the United States of America. Worlddata.info. RetrievedJanuary 1, 2023, from https://www.worlddata.info/america/usa/hurricanes.php 

Ellerbeck, S. (2022, July 21). The horn of Africa is facing an unprecedented drought. What is the world doing to help solve it? World Economic Forum. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/07/africa-drought-food-starvation/ 

Favas, M. (2021, November 8). Food prices will stay high, hurting poor countries most. The Economist. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://www.economist.com/the-world-ahead/2021/11/08/food-prices-will-stay-high-hurting-poor-countries-most 

Gates, B. (2022). Agricultural Development. Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://www.gatesfoundation.org/our-work/programs/global-growth-and-opportunity/agricultural-development 

Jevtic, A. (2017, October 4). 10 examples of genetically modified foods with full explanations. Insider Monkey. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://www.insidermonkey.com/blog/10-examples-of-genetically-modified-foods-with-full-explanations-523229/?singlepage=1 

Khorsandi, P. (2022, May 20). War in Ukraine: WFP renews call to open Black Sea ports amid fears for Global Hunger: World Food Programme. UN World Food Programme. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://www.wfp.org/stories/war-ukraine-wfp-renews-call-open-black-sea-ports-amid-fears-global-hunger 

Lotha, G. (2022, December 19). Indian Ocean tsunami of 2004. Encyclopædia Britannica. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://www.britannica.com/event/Indian-Ocean-tsunami-of-2004 

Media, A. (2022, July 20). Africa may struggle to replace Ukraine's wheat supplies 20.07.2022. UkrAgroConsult. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://ukragroconsult.com/en/news/africa-may-struggle-to-replace-ukraines-wheat-supplies/ 

Program, W. F. (2022, November 20). Horn of africa: Extreme drought deepens hunger in a region facing conflict | africa renewal. United Nations. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://www.un.org/africarenewal/magazine/november-2022/horn-africa-extreme-drought-deepens-hunger-region-facing-conflict 

Report, G. (2022, May 16). Wheat crisis: Wheat prices increased in the international market. Ground Report. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://groundreport.in/wheat-crisis-wheat-prices-increased-in-international-market/ 

Stillman, D. (2022, December 23). Six maps that show the severity of Arctic Blast and Winter Storm. The Washington Post. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://www.washingtonpost.com/weather/2022/12/22/winter-storm-maps-forecast-arctic-blast/ 

Wood, J. (2022, April 19). 2 charts that show the sharp rise in food costs. World Economic Forum. Retrieved January 1, 2023, from https://www.weforum.org/agenda/2022/04/food-prices-fao-index-cereals-commodities-exports/ 


Author: Aditya Saraf, student LIGS University
Approved by: Dr. Minh Nguyen, lecturer LIGS University

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