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Dry Field

Food & Water Resources

Problems and solutions

With so many challenges, it's hard to know where to start. We start by defining some of the most pressing issues, looking at the data, and learning about evidence based opportunities for change.  

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Food insecurity and malnutrition
  • As many as 828 million people were affected by hunger in 2021, around 9.8% of the global population.

    • Around 2.3 billion people (29.3% of global population) were 'moderately or severely food insecure'.

    • Food insecurity also has a gender gap: 31.9% of women in the world were moderately or severely food insecure compared to 27.6% of men.

  • Almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020.

    • An estimated 45 million children under the age of five were suffering from “wasting,” the deadliest form of malnutrition, which increases children’s risk of death by up to 12 times.

    • 149 million children under five had stunted growth and development due to a chronic lack of essential nutrients in their diets, and another 39 million were overweight.

  • Hidden hunger”: over 2 billion people worldwide have an energy-deficient diet that causes micronutrient deficiencies in iron, zinc, iodine, and vitamin A, among other key nutrients.

    • 21.3% of children under five suffer from hidden hunger; micronutrient deficiencies can be especially devastating for children in severely hindering physical and cognitive development.

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Food production externalities
  • Global food systems account for 30% of greenhouse gas emissions.

    • Roughly half comes from agricultural production and half comes from land conversion.

  • Factory farming/industrialized livestock production itself accounts for 14.5% of anthropogenic greenhouse emissions.

    • Cattle alone accounts for 60% of agricultural emissions

    • Even if fossil fuel emissions were eliminated immediately, emissions from animal production alone would make it impossible to meet the Paris Climate Agreement goal of limiting warming to 1.5-2C.

    • Agriculture also pollutes water sources and ecosystems with manure, chemical, antibiotics, and hormones, further damaging the environment and adversely affecting human health.

    • Agriculture is estimated to cause about $3 trillion worth of environmental damage per year.

  • Factory farms are a primary risk factor for future pandemics, facilitating conditions where diseases can “jump” from animals to humans (aka a “zoonotic spillover event,” as seen with the H1N1”swine flu” virus, which likely originated in a factory pig farm).

    • Antimicrobials used to accelerate livestock growth also accelerate antimicrobial resistance (a top global health problem).

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Clean water access
  • Globally, at least 2 billion people drink contaminated drinking water.

    • 2 billion people also live in water-stressed countries, a number expected rise due to climate change and population change.

  • For at least 3 billion people, the quality of their drinking water is unknown due to lack of monitoring.

    • Clean water access has increased just 4% (70-74%) in the past five years.

    • At current rates, in 2030 1.6 billion will still lack safe drinking water.

  • Unsafe water is responsible for 1.2 million deaths each year, around 2.2% of total global deaths.

    • In low-income countries, unsafe water accounts for 6% of deaths.

    • Lack of access to safe water is a leading risk factor for diseases like cholera, dysentery, hepatitis A, typhoid, and polio; it also exacerbates malnutrition and stunts childhood development.

Glasses of Water

What can we do about it?


directly providing food, nutrient supplements, water, and other resources/tools to malnourished or food insecure populations.


promoting awareness of problems related to food and water resources to increase philanthropic funding or government action.
"Water is the driving force of all nature."
Leonardo da Vinci

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