[OPINION] – Makoko, Hunger and Why We Must Re-think Food Waste

makoko slum
riverine makoko

Makoko is a slum neighborhood located in Lagos,Nigeria with a present population considered to be around 85,000. It is basically a self governing community with very limited government presence and security and the level of poverty and hunger in the floating slum is of high pitch. To mark its annual World Food Day hunger awareness campaign for 2013, FoodClique Support Initiative, a non-governmental organization focused on hunger alleviation and food sustainability distributed meals to several thousands of the Makoko slum community including children, women and the aged. This year’s theme was “Sustainable Food Systems for Food Security and Nutrition” and with the social inequality currently being experienced in today’s world, thoughts needed to be given towards bridging the gap between the haves and haves not. Some Makoko citizens, having been fed nutritiously ultimately wished everyday was world food day citing no clue as to their next meal for the next day. Thus, with situations as such, the issue of food waste comes to bear as Nigeria’s current population of 160 million people has a sizable number of individuals faced with the makoko food struggle for survival.

FOOD WASTE
FOOD WASTE

It is a known fact today that most of the food produced worldwide are wasted due to poor storage management and in the coming months, droughts, flood, and situations like the current typhoon haiyan crisis in the philippines require a dedicated approach towards nutritious food provision in the form of supplements or intervention. In the United States alone, 40 million tons of food is wasted each year, while United Kingdom families still throw away £60 worth of food each month all sufficiently enough to lift almost a billion people out of hunger worldwide. The need to take practical actions aiming at reducing food waste and its consequences cannot be overemphasized as responsibility lies in each family(not the government) to reflect always and save to ensure a world where everyone has enough to eat. In a recent assessment, crop damage and food loss in Nigeria has expectedly scaled due to the 2012 flood crisis and it is now reported that 2013 staple food production is currently on a 12% low. For a country where almost half its population live below the poverty level, these statistics are not only alarming but portend devastating consequences.

We often talk about the need to produce more food and develop agriculture to end hunger, but we also have to find ways to waste less of the food that is already available. Doing this requires making informed decisions about our current “owambe” lifestyle, and being conscious of the food choices we make. Curbing food waste in Nigeria requires an effort from every of us citizens be it at home, in the supermarket, the farm, hotel or a canteen so long food is being consumed and prepared. Agreeably, food waste at times could be unavoidable, but if we all decide to always buy what we need, serve a satisfactory amount, freeze the remainder and use up leftovers, we’re well on our way towards ensuring a reduction in the 1.3 billion tonnes of good food lost every year. Taking a hard stance at food waste in Nigeria has to be a culture we must develop, as it would enable us become more responsible and be able to share with the teeming millions who have got no food. There’s no reason not to change.

foodclique food giving
foodclique

For FoodClique, the awareness to discourage food waste continues with appeals to food businesses, agencies and parastatals involved in food consumption and preservation to collaborate and heighten concerted efforts and campaigns towards citizenry enlightenment on the need to save resource and eat sustainably. In a recent statement by the Leader of the catholic faith -Pope Francis, He said “We should all remember, however, that throwing food away is like stealing from the tables of the poor, and the hungry”. A food production, conservation, donation, and distribution culture must be cultivated thus as the significant value of food today must be respected and as such, food waste frowned at so as to ensure a sustainable future of prosperity for Nigerians.

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