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Global availability of food

IB DP Geography
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Base Knowledge and Understanding

Base knowledge and understanding



Food Security Risk Index 2013


Video Clip
Data Visualization
Definition vulnerability
infectious diseases
compromised immune system
poor nutrition
poor nutrition
News Article
Words to be defined
Base Level



The aim of this lesson:

  • To be able to distinguish between malnutrition, temporary hunger, chronic hunger and famine.
  • To discuss the concept of food security.
Daily Calorie Intake

Look at this data visualisation above.

It shows the access to calories of a number of nations.

  • Why might there be variation in the values for calorie intake?
  • What issues might there be with measuring this value and collecting the data?
  • Does your calorie intake stay the same during a typical week, or are there variations?
  • When would you say that your calorie intake increased temporarily ?
Geography Activities


Geography Activities
Geography Activities

Task 1: Malnutrition, temporary hunger, chronic hunger and famine

There are obviously variations in the global intake of calories, which is one measure of food availability. Even if calories are being consumed, there may still be health problems building up, which we shall explore later.

There are four key terms that you need to become familiar with when considering the consumption of food.

They are defined below:


A state of poor nutrition. This usually results from a deficiency of proteins, energy or minerals. May lead to one of a range of diseases depending on the particular nature of the malnutrition.

Temporary hunger

Hunger is both a state where there is a desire for food and an absence of food. This is a short term need for food, triggered by physiological responses caused by food deprivation.

Chronic hunger

A state where the desire for food becomes extreme, due to prolonged food deprivation, to the point where normal bodily functions begin to be affected.


Famine is determined by the United Nations, and is a ‘legal’ definition. In this respect it is similar to the definition of a pandemic: certain numerical conditions need to be met. The recent famine in Somalia in 2011 was the first ‘real’ famine for some time. We will look in more detail at this event later in the unit.

Famine is defined technically as: “a situation where acute malnutrition rates among children exceed 30%, more than 2 people per 10 000 die per day, and people are not able to access food and other basic necessities...”

Geography Activities
Geography Activities

Task 2: Breaking down a definition of 'food security'


Food security “exists when all people, at all times have access to sufficient, safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life..."

Source: FAO | Food and Agriculture Organisation of United Nations


Let’s break the definition into sections:

all people – are there some people who are less likely to have access to food? If so, who are they and where are they likely to be living?

at all times – are there temporary food issues that would have an effect on certain groups of people?

sufficient – what would you deem to be sufficient food – one meal a day? two? three?

safe and nutritious – do people in the developed world sometimes eat food that is less than nutritious and not safe in the longer term ? what would you class as ‘unsafe food’?

food preferences – this phrase suggests there is choice, and that if people are not able to have a range of food choices they might be suffering from food insecurity – do people always have access to a full range of food? do some people narrow down their food preferences? do you always have the food that you prefer? (think about some possible health impacts here...)

Geography Activities
Geography Activities

Task 3: How do these statements link to the concept of 'food security'

For each statement describe how they link to the concept of 'food security'.
There will be 219,000 people at the dinner table tonight who were not there last night.
Today, with incomes rising fast in emerging economies, there are at least 3 billion people moving up the food chain, consuming more grain-intensive livestock and poultry products.
In India some 190 million people are being fed with grain produced by overpumping groundwater. For China, there are 130 million in the same boat.
In Nigeria, 27 percent of families experience foodless days. In India it is 24 percent, in Peru 14 percent.
Water supply is now the principal constraint on efforts to expand world food production.
Nearly a third of the world’s cropland is losing topsoil faster than new soil is forming, reducing the land’s inherent fertility.
The generation of farmers now on the land is the first to face manmade climate change.
At no time since agriculture began has the world faced such a predictably massive threat to food production as that posed by the melting mountain glaciers of Asia.
Hyperlink - 10 Things to Know About Food on World Food Day [12 October 2013]
Geography Activities
Geography Activities

Task 4: ‘Plumpy Nut’ Case study

0’00” – 0’38”
What is the scale of global malnutrition?
0’38” – 0’53”
What is the name for the organisation described here as “doctors without borders”?
0’52” – 1’36”
How is the impact of Plumpy’nut described by Dr. Milton Tectonidis of MSF during the video?
1’37” – 2’12”

How are the impacts of famine in Niger described, and why does the country suffer so badly?

2’12” – 2’50”

What is Plumpy’nut – what else do we find out about it?

2’50” – 4’14”

What should the strategy be for feeding young people, and why is it vital that they are fed properly at a young age?

Geography Review


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