The Greek word that is translated famine can also be mean hunger.
Famines have occurred throughout history. Stephen Devereux has done extensive research on famines and is quoted by many others who have done similar research. He made this statement: “With up to 70 million estimated deaths, the 20th century was the worst ever in terms of famine mortality.” Famines charted since 1860 illustrate a large number of deaths immediately following WWI and WWII. During the 1920s and 1930s, about 16 to 17 million people died from famines in Europe and the Soviet Union. Of the 32 famines for which mortality estimates are available, the Great Leap Forward famine in China between 1958-1960 is probably the most deadly famine of all time, killing an estimated 30 million people.
The 21st century
Famines continue to be a problem in the 21st century in many parts of the world. Statistics that originated from The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimated that “about 795 million people of the 7.3 billion people in the world, or one in nine, were suffering from chronic undernourishment in 2014-2016”.
In April of 2020 David Beasley the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP) painted a grim picture of 135 million people facing crisis levels of hunger or worse, coupled with an additional 130 million on the edge of starvation prompted by Coronavirus.
In April 2020 Oxfam released a paper that stated widespread hunger due to the COVID-19 pandemic could push half a billion people into poverty.
In May 2020 Oxfam stated: “As COVID-19 marches across the world, the threat of illness and death is meeting an even greater concern as the disease threatens places already suffering from poverty, conflict, and drought. Hunger is now the greater concern in poor countries where people struggle to earn enough to eat each day, or grow the food on which their families and local markets rely.”