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The Fork Is Mightier than the Wall

A challenge as complex as migration cannot be addressed simply through stricter immigration laws, let alone a border wall like the one US President Donald Trump seeks to build on his country’s southern frontier with Mexico. Instead, policymakers must tackle migration’s underlying causes – beginning with a broken global food system.

NEW ORLEANS – The word “migration” conjures images of war, natural disaster, and severe economic distress. All are important reasons why people seek refuge far from home. But the single most powerful driver of migration may well be food – or, rather, the lack of it.

As of 2017, some 821 million people worldwide – about one in every nine – faced chronic food deprivation. While some progress has been made to reduce extreme hunger, the overall number of chronically hungry people continues to rise.

The link with migration is clear. When people in Africa, the Middle East, and Latin America cannot feed themselves and their families, they often leave home. According to a study by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), each percentage-point increase in food insecurity increases refugee outflows by 1.9%.

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