Hungry Planet

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Water is a constant preoccupation in the Breidjing Refugee Camp. Every day, lines of women and children carry jugs and pots of drinking and cooking water from distribution points to their tents. To get extra water to wash clothes, families dig pits- in nearby wadis (seasonal river beds), creating shallow pools from which they scoop out water. In November, the camp wadi had water three feet below the surface. As the dry season advances, the sand pits get deeper and deeper. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (p. 67). /// This image is featured alongside the Aboubakar family images in Hungry Planet: What the World Eats. (Please refer to Hungry Planet book p. 56-57 for a family portrait.) (MODEL RELEASED IMAGE). After the family food portrait the Le Moines gamely tried to use up as much of the perishable food as possible in that night's supper. Hungry Planet: What the World Eats (p. 126). (MODEL RELEASED IMAGE). Squatting near the fire with her children, Sudanese Refugee D'jimia Ishakh Souleymane serves out aiysh, the thick porridge that this refugee family eats three times a day. Despite losing almost everything in their flight from militia attacks, D'jimia keeps her improvised household as orderly as possible. To cover the ground inside, the family hauled in clean sand from the dry riverbed. D'jimia and the children sleep on two blankets, which she constantly airs out and washes. (Supporting image from the project Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.) (MODEL RELEASED IMAGE). Delphine Le Moine, a dance student, buys mozzarella cheese at a supermarket in Paris. (Supporting image from the project Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.) The Le Moine family lives in the Paris suburb of Montreuil, France, and is one of the thirty families featured, with a weeks' worth of food, in the book Hungry Planet: What the World Eats.

The modern world is divided economically into the global north and global south, or simply put, developed and developing nations. Due to the economic inequalities between developed and developing countries, there are vast disparities in the daily lives of the citizens of France for example, and those who call Chad home. While families in France visit a local market or grocery store to purchase food that is enjoyed as a basic commodity, the people of Chad spend most of their day and energy searching for food and water, often coming up short. A question one might ask is, what has caused such disparities between groups of people living in a global age?

Amartya Sen, a leading expert on the causes of famine blames poverty and unemployment, as well as non-democratic governments for the prominent undernourishment in the global south. In his article, Why Half the Planet is Hungry, Sen argues that multi-party elections combined with trade liberalization would end world hunger. However, Vandana Shiva in response to Sen states in The Real Reasons for Hunger that the real cause for hunger in places like Chad is due to the deregulation of imports and exports imposed by the WTO and The World Bank. These global policies take income and land away from farmers in poor countries, as wealthy countries dump their excess produce at prices below production costs, creating a system that peasant farmers cannot possibly compete with. Shiva argues that the best solution is to provide the resources and access to a free market in the hands of the people, resulting in an end to poverty and a sustainable future. In the end, the solution may need to take ideas from both sides. By forming democratic governments and free, multi-party elections, providing resources and access to a free market, the power is put back in the hands of the people which is a key ingredient in the industrialized world.

Photo credit: Peter Menzel Photography. Hungry Planet: Chad, France.

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