Open Access

The Power of Social Capital to Address Structural Factors of Hunger

In Transitioning to Zero Hunger, , Ed.


This essay contributes to the theory of the current crises of the world food system and agriculture, including persistent hunger. It is organized into seven chapters and develops the critical importance of social capital in ending hunger. The introduction highlights the importance of a theoretical understanding of this issue to address the well-known symptoms under the guidance of the FAO. Then, the commonly agreed upon five groups of structural factors of hunger are recalled: poverty; wars and pandemics; gender, age, and race; divided societies; and finally capitalist-driven economies including land grabbing. Thirdly, the concept of social capital is proposed as related to social networks and social systems, and the consequences of its neglect as a hunger parameter are explained. Agroecology, often considered the solution since 2008, is critically analyzed and compared with the food regime based on industrial agriculture. These two regimes are confronted with a third method, applying the morphological analyses invented by Zwicky. The surprising results are further developed into proposals on how social capital can be created and used to end hunger. The essay develops around the main discourses since the IAASTD report, the food crises of 2008, and the required transformation into more sustainable forms. Social science and the concepts of social systems are essential in this narrative. We see the underdeveloped social capital, particularly social networks and other local institutions related to national policies at the local and rural levels, as a critical parameter and indicator to predict hunger or food and nutrition insecurity. Empirical studies and experiments from the author’s research and work in Africa support this short and dense essay, hoping to contribute to a better understanding of ending hunger before 2050.

Transitioning to Zero Hunger
Published in:

Transitioning to Zero Hunger

Delwendé Innocent Kiba
, Ed.
Published: September 2023
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