What Is the History Behind World Hunger?

World hunger has been a persistent issue throughout history, affecting millions of people across the globe. It is a complex problem with various underlying causes, including poverty, war, climate change, and political instability. In this article, we will explore the history behind world hunger and how it has evolved over time.

The Early Days of Hunger

Historically, hunger was primarily caused by natural disasters such as droughts, floods, and famines. These events could wipe out entire crops and leave people without food for months or even years. In ancient times, people often had to resort to eating wild plants or hunting animals to survive during these difficult periods.

The Industrial Revolution

The Industrial Revolution brought about significant changes in agriculture and food production. New technologies such as tractors and fertilizers allowed farmers to produce more food than ever before.

However, these advancements were not evenly distributed around the world. Many developing countries did not have access to these technologies and continued to struggle with hunger.


During the 19th century, many European powers colonized other parts of the world in search of new resources such as land and minerals. This often led to the exploitation of local populations and their resources. Colonizers would take over large areas of land for commercial farming or extractive industries such as mining.

This often disrupted local ways of life and traditional farming methods, leading to food shortages and famine. The Irish Potato Famine is a well-known example of this phenomenon.

The Modern Era

In the 20th century, world hunger became a more pressing issue due to rapid population growth and urbanization. Many developing countries struggled to keep up with demand for food as their populations grew larger.

In addition to natural disasters and political instability, economic policies also played a role in exacerbating hunger in many parts of the world. For example, structural adjustment policies imposed by the International Monetary Fund and World Bank often forced countries to reduce public spending on social programs such as food subsidies and healthcare.

The Present Day

Today, hunger remains a major issue in many parts of the world. According to the United Nations, over 690 million people go hungry on a daily basis. This is despite the fact that there is more than enough food to feed everyone on the planet.

Climate change is also expected to exacerbate hunger in the coming years. Droughts, floods, and other extreme weather events are becoming more common, making it harder for farmers to produce crops.


In conclusion, world hunger has been a persistent issue throughout history with various underlying causes. While progress has been made in reducing hunger in some parts of the world, much work remains to be done. It will require a concerted effort from governments, NGOs, and individuals around the globe to ensure that everyone has access to sufficient food and nutrition.