It is nearly a year since I first blogged about the severe food shortages in North Korea. Today, conditions are much worse, to the point where the cloistered North is even contemplating asking for help from South Korea - so things must be bad. But North Korea is not alone in this predicament. More than three million people face starvation in Nepal, thanks to crop failures caused by climate change. The Solomon Islands face food shortages, again brought about by climate change, and the list grows by the day - Kenya, Sudan and 'closer to home' as well, with warning bells sounding in the UK over the need to address food production and agricultural issues.
North Korea's problems are seeded by its political system but many other places around the world face food shortages because of disaster, climate extremes and price hikes caused by unsustainable practices. Again, glancing back to this time last year, we were teetering at the edge of the global financial meltdown, yet warnings went unheeded and it seemed that everyone was wise only after the event.
Signs, indicators and trends point towards food security being a major issue for millions of people in the coming year, yet the majority of mainstream media outlets are as slow to catch on to food security as they were the financial blow-outs. In western economies, price is the main issue, rather than scarcity. There is plenty of food in the shops but as jobs disappear and incomes are cut access to that food is reduced. So what's to be done? The 'agencies' - Oxfam, World Vision, the UN and many others - are all doing their part to raise not just awareness of the problem but also stimulate action to prevent conditions worsening. Sadly, as soon as one famine fire looks like it might be extinguished, another takes its place.
Mainstream media seems obstinate in its refusal to' effectively report on famines, food security issues and food shortages yet it is an issue that is going to touch each and every one of us at some point - probably sooner than we think.
So what can we do? Talk to people about it. Blog about it. Look around and see how you can help. It might mean you decided to grow veggies in the back yard for yourself or it might mean finding a channel to make your voice heard, so that those with the power and resources to help those dying from hunger do so.
Today, 1.02 billion people are hungry. That is a huge number. A ridiculous number. Almost beyond comprehension. So boil it down - see each individual for the person they are, a person just like you but who needs our help. It is easy to imagine one child. Well, one child dies every five seconds from hunger-related causes. So in the time it has taken for you to read this, five children will have died. I think that is something worth raising our voices over, don't you?