Hunger: The Most Extreme Form of Poverty

A farmer in Mali enjoins the first harvest from the pioneering Cereal Aid project

This is no easy cliché. When you do not have food, you have hit rock bottom on the scale of poverty.  Hunger is a wide term and has many consequences for communities who do not have access to sufficient food supplies.

Whether it's following a famine, as a result of conflict or a simple lack of resources, Muslim Hands understands the varied approach needed to alleviate the consequences of hunger and tackle its root causes.

Imagine the world really was one village...

...would we be distressed that our neighbours were starving? The world produces enough food to feed everyone, but 25,000 people are dying each day from hunger.

The world population may have increased by 70% since the 1970s, but the amount of food produced in the world has increased even more! There is actually enough to provide everyone in the world with at least 2,720 kcal per person per day (compare this to the UK, where the recommended calorie intake for men is 2550 kcal per day).

Of those under-nourished who manage to live despite lack of food, 800 million are undernourished. This chronic malnutrition makes life into a seemingly endless misery of ill-health and weakness. Almost a third of all children in developing countries are underweight or have stunted growth. Hungry children find it difficult to learn and are less able to resist illnesses.

When whole communities are starved, people feel ill all the time, they have low energy levels and sometimes are too ill to even work and support their families. Hunger ensures millions of people remain trapped in a cycle of poverty.

The solution out of this state of constant suffering is as simple as it is vital: providing nutritious food for the hungry.

For all these reasons, food distribution has always been a focal part of Muslim Hands' work. We want to help you help those who are desperate for the simple joy of a plateful of hot food and a happy family that is free from the desperation of hunger.

Responses to hunger

Food is a vital component of living and health. When people cannot access food, hunger expresses itself in many different and often complicated ways. MH responds to these diverse needs by providing short-term emergency relief following a famine or emergency to longer-term food projects which keep communities self-sufficient for generations.

Here are some of the ways you have helped thousands of victims of hunger around the world:

Food distribution


In 2011 the Horn of Africa suffered from a debilitating famine. Muslim Hands has stayed within regional communities long term to not only provide emergency relief, but to help divert the risk of illness and even death due to lack of access to food.

Whenever the need arises, Muslim Hands uses your donations to run various food distribution projects in some of the most vulnerable areas of Mali, Niger, Somalia and Ethiopia as well as for refugees from conflicts in Lebanon, Palestine, Afghanistan and Sudan and victims of natural disasters from the Asian tsunami, Bangladesh floods, Burma cyclone and the earthquake in China.

Whether it is throughout the year or in times of crises, our food distribution projects provide countless communties with relief from the burden of hunger.

School feeding


We have always believed that part of learning depends on good health and healthy growth through a wholesome lunch. Wherever possible, in the schools which Muslim Hands runs boys and girls are given free nutritional school meals on a daily basis.

One such example of a feeding programme is in Mali's capital city, Bamako:

Bamako Healthy Pupils Initiative

Mali is one of the poorest nations in the world. Poor food intake and frequent infections result in endemic malnutrition, which in turn increases vulnerability to - and the severity of - many diseases. 

As a result school absenteeism and dropouts increase amongst children due to illness, which leads to low attainment in literacy, especially at the primary level. 

Endemic poor health is a major factor behind the fact that only 39% of the children attend primary schools in Mali.  

At Muslim Hands Mali school 'The Healthy Pupils Initiative' provides nutritional meals every school day for poor and orphaned children. In consultation with health specialists, the meals consist of:

  • Proteins like eggs, milk, cheese and meats (which are often unaffordable for families)
  • Carbohydrates like rice, bread, potatoes
  • Fats like butter and cooking oils
  • Vitamins in the form of local vegetables, local fruits and fruit juices

This balanced diet will promote good health and reduces illness, significantly enhancing children's' ability to learn and play.

Global Iftar


During Ramadan, many fast not only through poverty, but also conflict and instability such as those in Gaza, Sri Lanka and South Africa.

Every year, Muslim Hands offers you the chance to engage with the true spirit of the month and provide a wholesome and nutritious hot meal to poor, sick and elderly people all over the world. 

As part of our 'Global Iftar Campaign' you can provide a fasting person an iftar that they otherwise could not afford. We reach almost 250,000 people every year in 35 of the poorest countries.

Worldwide Qurbani


It is easy to think of offering a qurbani as just a religious obligation, but it has benefits which extend very deep for many poor communities.

Muslim Hands gives you the opportunity whether it is qurbani time or not, to donate a sheep or goat to over 40 of the world's poorest countries. 

The MH Worldwide Qurbani Service benefits hundreds of thousands of people and its reach is spreading every year.

In numbers: The global health crisis

  • 3.6 seconds

    somebody dies of hunger every 3.6 seconds

  • 50%

    of all children in South Asia are malnourished

  • 1 billion

    people around the world go to sleep hungry every night

In pictures

Food scarcity in the world takes on many different forms- temporary or long term, in the middle of an emergency period or chronic.

We carry out a number of different approaches to respond to hunger, here is a brief glimpse into our hunger alleviation projects around the world.