In the January/February edition of Foreign Affairs, Jack Goldstone writes a compelling piece on demographic trends, which all have implications on global hunger and how we address it.
"The New Population Bomb" points out a few things we already know: The industrialized world is getting older. The developing world is getting younger. And it seems everyone is headed for the cities, with 70 percent of world population expected to reside in urban centers by mid-century.
Goldstone (get bio) discusses these trends in ways that point out real implications for humanitarian work -- addressing hunger first and foremost. WFP, NGOs and others must think how to provide food in settings where food is available in markets, but where people lack resources to buy it.
"Prone to unrest"
As we look at young populations around the world -- in Pakistan, Afghanistan, and many other countries with the highest levels of hunger and malnutrition -- it is important to give thought to Goldstone's point that countries "with younger populations are especially prone to civil unrest and are less able to create or sustain democratic institutions. "
He argues that the more heavily urbanized such countries are, the more likely they will experience Dickensian poverty and anarchic violence -- a real heads-up that we need to do everything possible to understand hunger, thirst and basic human need in the context of evolving population trends.