Philanthropy is often counted upon to help mitigate various issues and crises. Many are of the opinion that it is the moral responsibility of the ultra rich to share their resources and money for the benefit of others. However, can we really say that $6 billion dollars donated by the world’s billionaires can help solve an issue like the world hunger crisis?
A recent war of words on Twitter has once again sparked this debate. This time, it is billionaire Elon Musk against UN World Food Programme. A controversy erupted when UN WFP Executive Director David Beasley said in an interview that just a fraction of the wealth of the world’s billionaires could solve world hunger. In response, Musk tweeted that he will sell his Tesla shares and donate $6 billion (2 per cent of his wealth) if the UN WFP could describe how the money will be used to solve world hunger.
As it turns out, Beasley responded to Musk saying that he had been misquoted. $6 billion will not solve world hunger. But it will resolve a host of other issues that lead to hunger in various degrees. Geopolitical instability and mass migration have pushed 42 million people to the brink of starvation. This is an unprecedented crisis, brought on by COVID, climate and conflict.
While the richest people in the world could possibly play a vital role in mitigating hunger, as urged by UN WFP, the problem goes much deeper than the availability of funds.
There are a number of causes for global hunger. Poverty, unemployment, food shortage and waste, market conditions, climate change, poor infrastructure, war or conflict, quality of nutrition, and discrimination are only a few. To address the issue of sustainable human development and to move towards that goal, an all-round approach is needed.
Issues such as hunger are quite complex. Thus, simple solutions, such as donating $6 billion in funds, cannot work for them. Apart from the logistical problem of providing meals, there are many other things to be taken into consideration.
On one hand, a situation of acute starvation demands urgent, quick, maybe on-time intense effort and resources. On the other hand, mitigating or ending hunger requires world communities and governments to deal with dynamic challenges such as war, pandemic, calamity, discrimination, shortage and wastage of food, lack of infrastructure, state of economy, poverty, and climate change. Moreover, even after hunger is dealt with, malnutrition will continue to be a major focus area that needs to be addressed.
Thus, setting a timeline or a fixed amount for mitigating this humungous task is fruitless. The problem of world hunger can be dealt with through focused and long-term awareness efforts around all these issues.