Combatting Hunger in Less Developed Countries

The Problem: Hunger and food security

Poor Indian children asking for food, India

“We know that a peaceful world cannot long exist, one-third rich and two-thirds hungry.” – Jimmy Carter

Borgen, Clint. “10 Quotes on World Hunger.” The Borgen Project, Clint Borgen 

Hunger is a problem for many people around the world, especially in less economically developed countries. This issue can be fatal, as hunger and bad food security can lead to deathly causes like malnutrition and undernourishment. However, this is not a problem created by the lack of food crops produced in the world, as many countries throw away food that could have been fed to people starving from hunger in other parts of the world. There is lots that can be done to tackle this problem

Personal Importance: When I see the immense pile of wasted food in my school’s cafeteria it bothers me that people in other countries are starving and even dying from hunger, when there are tons of food, often in great shape and form lying in the garbage. I see this as a major issue that needs to be fixed, and that there needs to be a method where wasted or unused food from developed countries should be given to those who are struggling from hunger. I believe that we must find a way to make use of all the food we generate in the world, and be more efficient and to provide to those in need.

My Problem/Game

I realized that a very efficient and realistic way to reduce the amount of hunger in developing nations is for developed nations to provide food to those nations. I decided to model a game where the developed and developing country negotiate so that they can both gain incentives from participating in this exchange.

The two players in this game are:

Player 1 – Developing country that lacks food (3rd world country)

Player 2- A developed country that has and wastes surplus food

I decided that Player 1’s Strategies are:

A- Only agree to a deal if there is nothing they need to give back to player 2 in return for food aid

B- Accept anything player 2 offers

Player 2’s Strategies are:

A- Give a lot of surplus food to developing countries in exchange for natural resources, and even when the developing country fails to trade them back, continue donating food to them to gain a good reputation.

B- Donating little amount of food for no exchange

C- Give a lot of surplus food to developing countries in exchange for natural resources, and if the developing country fails to give them back resources, stop giving food.

A Matrix Model representation of this game

(P1 payoff, P2 payoff)Player 2 APlayer 2 BPlayer 2 C
Player 1 A(100,60)(70,50)(10,40)
Player 1 B(50,80)(70,50)(50,80)

Before Scrolling down, please take this poll and indicate what you think the optimal solution for both players is.

Now, Scroll down and see if your optimal solution is the solution that is derived using game theory!!

One popular game theory method is to find the Nash equilibrium. The Nash equilibrium solution is one where both players find their best strategy for every possible strategy the opponent plays, and when a point is both player’s best strategy when the opponent plays a certain strategy, that point is a Nash equilibrium solution.

As you can see below, the red arrow points to the best solution for Player 2 (developed country) for both possible strategy Player 1 (developing country) can play. Likewise, the blue arrow points to the best solution for Player 1 for each strategy player 2 can play.

The Nash Equilibria is Player 1 A Player 2 A, (100,60), and Player 1 B Player 2 C (50,80). This is because both red and blue arrows point towards these two points, meaning that the two points are respectively the best solution when each other’s strategies are played, and therefore there is no incentive for the two players to change their strategy.

Another game theory method to solve this problem is by using Pareto’s Optimality. A Pareto optimal solution is one that maximizes both player’s payoffs (number value) so that both players are happy with their outcome, and have no incentive in changing their strategy. To find a Pareto optimal outcome you visualize the possible outcomes to the game by graphing them on an x-y plane where x represents the payoffs for player 1, and y represents the payoffs for player 2. Then, by connecting the points, the solution that maximizes both players’ payoffs is the one that is to the top right of the polygon that is drawn

By graphing the outcomes for this game, we see that the line that connects point BA,BC and AA is the line that is most towards the top and right, and therefore those 3 points are Pareto Optimal outcomes.

Pareto Optimal Outcomes: AA,BC,BA

Mixed Solution: Any point on line AA- (BC & BA)

By comparing the solutions we derived from both game theory methods, we see that the solution of Player 1 A Player 2 A and Player 1 B Player2 C is both a Nash equilibrium outcome and is Pareto optimal. When solutions are the same for both methods, they are said to be solvable in the strictest sense and is very likely to be the best possible solution to this game.

For a More Detailed Explanation of the game-theoretical solutions to this game please see this video


General Solution:

A general solution to solve this world hunger problem, especially in less-developed country would be to raise awareness in developed countries around the world, so that citizens can actively advocate for NPO’s that donate food to those in need through methods such as local food drives. Also, another generic solution would be for the UN or a third-party group to collaborate with governments in less developed countries to assure that the correct measures are being taken to maximize the citizens’ access to adequate sustainable food.

Game Theory Solution

The two solutions that were solvable in the strictest sense in my game of what a developed and developing country should do to combat hunger in the developing country, were for the developed country to give a lot of surplus food to the developing country in hopes for exchange with natural resources and the developing country denying to give back resources, but accepting the food, and for the developed country to give a lot of surplus food to the developing country in hopes for exchange with natural resources and the developing country agreeing to do so. These are viable solutions, as the developing country will receive food either way, and the developed country would receive positive publicity either way regardless of whether the developing country trades back resources or not. These two solutions had very high payoffs for both countries, as both solutions give the countries a payoff that is one of their best possible available.

Raising Awareness

The United Nations will be a very helpful facilitator to carry out this solution, as it can confirm that the correct procedures are being taken by both countries to ensure that the solution in the game which satisfies both is carried out in a proper manner. In order for the United Nations and countries around the world to be more aware and alert of the issue of World hunger, we must first raise awareness in our local communities about this issue and think about what we can do as individuals to spark a change in people’s minds and to eventually catalyze a movement that can reduce hunger rates around the world.

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  1. April 25, 2019 by Claudia

    I really liked your step for analyzing some of the solutions towards combating hunger and how the United Nations needs to be cautious with this decision!

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