March 21 2019

Undernourishment and the Environment: Global Issues

Despite improvements, hunger still strikes.

In 2015, the United Nations renewed its commitment to ensure a fairer world for all by defining 17 Sustainable Development Goals in its 2030 Agenda. “Zero Hunger” is the second goal, aiming to eradicate hunger and poverty through sustainable farming techniques in particular.

Although undernourishment declined between 1990 and 2016, from 18.6% to 10.9% of the world’s population, hunger is currently on the rise. In 2016, there were over 815 million people suffering from hunger, and by 2050 it is estimated that an additional 2 billion will be affected.

A result of poverty, malnutrition impacts certain populations more than others. In Bihar, for instance, one of the poorest states in India, 80% of children under 5 and 68% of women under 50 are malnourished.

With the compounding effects of climate change, which puts even greater pressure on the resources we depend on, fighting hunger is more crucial than ever and requires concrete action to deeply change global food production and access.

The effects of hunger and malnutrition

Malnutrition and hunger often lead to severe dietary deficiencies, weakening individuals and making them more vulnerable to diseases and infections. Not only is physical health jeopardized, but so too is psychological well-being.

In addition, malnutrition is transmitted to the unborn child during pregnancy. An undernourished pregnant woman will give birth to a malnourished child with a lower birth weight. This will compromise the baby’s chances for survival, sometimes reducing it to a few hours, and also increase the risk of diseases and hinder the child’s brain development.

What can we do together?

World agriculture currently produces enough food to feed 12 billion people. Hunger and malnutrition are not caused by a lack of food but from poor distribution. We must work to improve availability and access to food, and we can do this by first strengthening local agriculture to ensure self-sufficiency and sovereignty. Furthermore, ⅓ of world food production is wasted; we must also act in order to reduce this waste.

In the states of Bihar (since 2013) and Jharkhand (since 2015) in India, Karuna-Shechen has been running an innovative program of organic vegetable gardens to simultaneously combat malnutrition and increase food security in a sustainable way.


We give families and schoolchildren access to a complete, balanced and environmentally friendly diet by providing them with plants and organic seeds. Our training courses in organic and traditional farming techniques teach families to be self-sufficient. People benefit from a diet that varies with the seasons, and by selling the surplus at local markets, they bring additional income to their families and help fight against food waste.

In 2018, the number of kitchen gardens has considerably increased from 20,000 to over 30,000. This amounts to 100,000 beneficiaries in India now having access to food in a sustainable way.


Bhavani and Sarat share their story:

“Before, we were losing time and money going to the market on a daily basis to buy vegetables that would rot quickly. We had to consume them in a short period of time if we did not want to waste them. Now we can eat fresh and good quality vegetables from our own garden every day. It’s better and cheaper!”

Malnutrition is a major global issue. With your donation, we can provide nourishing organic vegetable gardens and promote sustainable agriculture at the same time.


Thank you for helping us continue our mission!