Global Education

Teacher resources to encourage a global
perspective across the curriculum

Food security

  • The ‘iron buffalo’ or walking tractor is used to prepare a paddy field for rice seedlings near Sekong, Laos.
  • In a Niger village, this feast of lamb, vegetables and millet, which celebrates a child’s baptism, is shared among everyone.
  • In Solomon Islands, with its rich soil, high rainfall and a warm climate, families can grow sufficient food for their needs and sell the leftovers.
  • Tilapia raised in a Thai fish-farming project will help improve food security and reduce poverty.
  • On the outskirts of the Ifo Refugee Camp in Dadaab, Kenya, Somali women learn to grow their own crops.
  • Women work hard in the rice paddies in Cambodia.
  • Coastal families fish for their own food and for extra to sell at the market in Vanimo, Papua New Guinea.
  • Agriculturalist Victor Onions works with farmers in Cambodia to increase the variety and productivity of their crops.
  • At this Thai fish farm, fish are raised in floating baskets and vegetables are planted around the ponds, providing improved food security for families.
  • People fishing in Ha Long Bay, north-east Vietnam.
  • Unhusked rice and another crop are drying in the sun in a village near Sekong, Laos.
  • Cooking on Likiep Atoll, Marshall Islands
  • Cooking and eating outdoors at Majuro, Marshall Islands
  • Women in Cook Islands dry fish for ceremonial gift-giving, sale, and for when they are unable to go fishing.
  • Newly planted paddy rice seedlings in a field near Sekong, Laos.
  • Everyone helps to record tuber weights at harvest in Papua New Guinea.
  • Women in  Rajasthan, India, in saris spend time searching for, collecting and carrying firewood before they can cook food.
  • A woman bakes flat bread on a fuel efficient stove in Tilonia in north-east India.
  • A farmer with a traditional bullock dray surveys rice terraces in the eastern Shan area of Myanmar.
  • Women transplant seedlings into the rice paddy in Myanmar.
  • Fish for sale at an open-air market in Honiara, Solomon Islands
  • A wide variety of fruit and vegetables are available at the market in the Philippines.
  • An Afghan man in traditional dress collects a green leafy vegetable from an agricultural demonstration plot.
  • Thiruchelvam and Nesam sort their catch of small fish in preparation for sale at the Mathagal market, Sri Lanka.
  • A woman spends all day bent over and standing in water to plant rice seedlings in a paddy field in Laos.
  • Farmers are trained to produce more and better quality fish and prawns in their aquaculture ponds in Aceh, Indonesia.
  • Niu Loane lost his main food source and income when a king tide destroyed his pulaka plantation in Funafuti, Tuvalu.
  • A man lowers his fishing net into the river to catch fish for his family's evening meal in Vietnam.
  • A woman harvests chillies in her garden.
  • A woman collects eggs from her hen house while hens peck the surrounding ground.
  • Scientists work to improve food security in a laboratory at the International Livestock Research Institute in Nairobe, Kenya
  • A community worker talks to a group of woman who are waiting to collect their food ration at a food distribution point in Harare, Zimbabwe.
  • Women grow vegetables for their families in a communal garden in Zimbabwe.
  • A hand holding a bunch of carrots by their green tops.
  • A stalk with two green tomatoes
  • A young girl holds a fruit tree sapling
  • A Peruvian man in traditional dress holds up a plate of potatoes
  • Two women and one boy harvest vegetables grown on rafts of hyacinth roots.
  • Hands holding a bunch of peanuts
  • close up of red rice seedlings growing in water
  • close up of flowering plant on sandy riverbank

Quick facts

  • World Food Day, 16 October, highlights the need to ensure that all people have physical and economic access at all times to enough nutritious, safe food to lead healthy and active lives.
  • 842 million people in the world do not have enough to eat. This number has fallen by 17% since 1990.
  • The vast majority of hungry people (827 million) live in developing countries, where 14.3% of the population is undernourished.
  • One out of six children – roughly 100 million – in developing countries is underweight.
  • Poor nutrition causes nearly half (45%) of deaths in children under five - 3.1 million children each year.
  • If women farmers had the same access to resources as men, the number of hungry in the world could be reduced by up to 150 million.
  • Poverty, lack of investment in agriculture, natural disasters, soil degradation and food wastage contribute to food insecurity.
  • There is enough food in the world for everyone to have enough to eat, but it is unevenly distributed.
  • In human history, about 7,000 species of plants have been used for food. Today, just 12 species provide 80% of all of our food.


World Food Programme

Contributors' notes

Janey Monet said:

05 May 2014

Poverty is a serious world problem. If the world spent 10% of the money they spent on ammunition on food they would be able to feed every child in the world.

Contribution guidelines

(appears on page)



What is food security?

Food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to enough safe and nutritious food to meet their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy lifestyle.

World Food Summit, 1996

To be food secure means that:

  • food is available – The amount and quality of food available can be affected by many factors including climate, disasters, war, civil unrest, population size and growth, agricultural practices, social status and trade.
  • food is affordable – When there is a shortage of food, prices increase and while richer people will likely still be able to feed themselves, poorer people may have difficulty obtaining sufficient safe and nutritious food without assistance.
  • food is utilised – At the household level, sufficient and varied food needs to be prepared safely so that people (male and female) can grow and develop normally, meet their energy needs and avoid disease.

What is the impact of food insecurity?

For the 842 million people in the world who do not get enough healthy food regularly, ill health and a shorter life expectancy are real risks. Children, and especially very young children, who suffer from food insecurity will most likely be smaller and be less able physically and intellectually.

The demand for food is increasing faster than the ability to produce food. There is a danger that this will lead to increased damage to soils and overuse of water, which in turn would lead to reduced capacity of agricultural land.

Why is there food insecurity?


Poor people lack access to sufficient resources to produce or buy quality food. Farmers who lack sufficient equipment cannot grow enough produce and may be forced to farm less productive land. This could lead to further environmental deterioration and continue the cycle of poverty. Addressing poverty is critical to ensuring that all people have sufficient food.


A lack of sufficient calories and nutrients has huge effects on a person’s health. A hungry mother will give birth to an underweight baby, who then faces a future of stunted growth, frequent illness, learning disabilities and reduced resistance to disease. A hungry community will struggle to work and produce enough food. The HIV/AIDS pandemic has reduced food production in many affected countries as productive adults become ill or die. Lacking the labour, resources and know-how to grow staples and commercial crops, many households have shifted to cultivating survival foods or even leaving their fields, further reducing the food supply. Addressing health issues will improve utilisation and availability of food.

Water and the environment

Food production requires massive amounts of water. It takes one cubic metre (1,000 litres) of water to produce one kilogram of wheat and 3,000 litres of water to produce one kilogram of rice. Producing sufficient food is directly related to having sufficient water. Where water is scarce and the environment fragile, achieving food security may depend on what has been called ‘virtual water’, that is, importing food from countries with an abundance of water.

Gender equity

Women play a vital role in providing food and nutrition for their families through their roles as food producers, processors, traders and income earners. Yet women’s lower social and economic status limits their access to education, training, land ownership, decision-making, credit, and consequently their ability to improve their access to and use of food. Food utilisation can be enhanced by improving women’s knowledge of nutrition and food safety and the prevention of illnesses. Increasing women’s involvement in decision-making and their access to land and credit will in turn improve food security as women invest in fertilisers and better seeds, labour-saving tools, irrigation and landcare.

Disasters and conflicts

Droughts, floods, cyclones and pests can quickly wipe out large quantities of food as it grows or when it is in storage for later use. Likewise, seeds can be destroyed by such environmental dangers.

Conflict can also reduce or destroy food in production or storage as farmers flee to safety or become involved in the fighting. Previously productive land may be contaminated with explosive debris and need to be cleared before it can again be used for food production. Stored food, seeds and breeding livestock may be eaten or destroyed by soldiers, leading to long-term food shortages. Governments need to prioritise spending on food security in the aftermath of conflict.

Population and urbanisation

Population growth increases the demand for food, placing greater pressure on productive land. Poor harvests and higher costs lead many poor farmers to migrate to cities to look for work. Expanding cities also spread out across productive land, pushing food production further and further away from consumers. This increases the cost of all the activities associated with producing and transporting food, and decreases the food security of the poor in cities.


Many poor countries can produce staples more cheaply than rich nations but barriers to trade, such as distance from markets, quarantine regulations and tariffs make it difficult for them to compete in export markets against highly subsidised farmers in rich countries. This deprives poor farmers of income and entire countries of the agricultural base that they need to develop other sectors of the economy. In addition, trade imbalances prevent poor countries from importing agricultural products that could enhance their food security.

Loss of biodiversity

The increased reliance on a small number of species for food makes food production vulnerable to destruction by pests and hazards, attack by introduced species and climate change. Protection of genetic diversity and the thousands of species of insects and birds relied upon for pollination is crucial to cope with changes and achieve food security for all. Gene banks have increased in size and number and now hold tens of thousands of plant genes.

2014 International Year of Family Farming

The 2014 International Year of Family Farming aims to raise the profile of the role that family farming can play in eradicating hunger and poverty, providing food security and nutrition, improving livelihoods, managing natural resources, protecting the environment and achieving sustainable development, particularly in rural areas.

Both in developing and developed countries, family farming is the predominant form of agriculture in the food production sector. Supporting farmers to increase production while using water and soil efficiently will improve food security, preserve traditional food products, safeguard biodiversity and protect the environment. Assisting farmers, men and women, to access finance and markets will help to increase economic outcomes and stability.


Australia’s response

The Australian Government's aid program helps developing countries to address food security by improving agricultural productivity, increasing rural livelihoods and improving community resilience. Australia also provides emergency food aid through agencies such as the World Food Programme and the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

Australian Aid Food security 

International responses

Despite the economic crisis, rising food prices, increasing population and rising demands for food the proportion of undernourished people in developing regions decreased from 23.2% in 1990-1992 to 14.9% in 2010-2012. The Millennium Development Goal of halving the percentage of people suffering from hunger by 2015 appears to be within reach. International partners are working together to develop the capacities of regional, national and local institutions and other stakeholders in formulating, monitoring and evaluating programs for food and nutrition security.

Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition

Food and Agriculture Organization

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP)

The United Nations World Food Programme

Teaching activity

Food for the world

Newly planted paddy rice seedlings in a field near Sekong, Laos.
Students investigate the types and amounts of foods eaten around the world, and the environmental, economic, political and cultural factors that affect access to food. They develop an understanding of why some people in the world have more than enough to eat, while others struggle to have the basics for survival, and explore ways people could work together to achieve food security for all.
Read more
Year level: 5-6
Issue: Food security, Cultural diversity
Country: Thailand, Myanmar, Cambodia, Timor-Leste, Laos, Vietnam

Genetic diversity and agriculture

A hand holding a bunch of carrots by their green tops.
Students examine how communities manage genetic diversity in food crops to ensure food security. They plan an investigation to compare the choice to grow only one variety with the choice to grow a genetically diverse set of crops.
Read more
Year level: 9-10
Issue: Food security
Country: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka

Measuring Millennium Development Goals progress

Millennium Development Goals icons for all eight goals
Students use real world data from the Millennium Development Goals targets and indicators to calculate fractions, decimals, percentages and ratios to determine progress.
Read more
Year level: 7-8
Issue: Education, Food security, Health, Poverty reduction, Water and sanitation

Probability and pancakes

A woman bakes flat bread on a fuel efficient stove in Tilonia in north-east India.
Students read Mama Panya's Pancakes to gain insights into other ways of life and explore probability, fractions and measurement.
Read more
Year level: 3-4
Issue: Cultural diversity, Food security, Poverty reduction

The power of food

Unhusked rice and another crop are drying in the sun in a village near Sekong, Laos.
With the world' s population predicted to rise from 6.8 billion in 2010 to over 9 billion by 2050 there will be a massive increase in demand for food. Students examine maps and analyse information to identify ways of creating sustainable food security for all.
Read more
Year level: 9-10
Issue: Food security
Country: Indonesia, Papua New Guinea, Thailand

Case studies

Aquaculture in Thailand

Tilapia raised in a Thai fish-farming project will help improve food security and reduce poverty.
In north-east Thailand local communities are improving their food security and health through fish farming.
Read more

Conserving tree kangaroos

The tenkile is very difficult to see in the dense rainforests of Papua New Guinea’s Torricelli Mountains.
Holistic development is improving health and protecting the environment and endangered tree kangaroos in Papua New Guinea.
Read more

Rebuilding Sri Lanka

A Tamil woman stands inside the shell of her bombed out home in northern Sri Lanka.
In 2009, after 26 years of civil conflict, peace was declared in Sri Lanka. The government and many organisations are now assisting people to return to their homes, and are helping to rehabilitate soldiers, reconstruct the economy and reconcile differences between and within ethnic communities.
Read more


Newly planted paddy rice seedlings in a field near Sekong, Laos.
Traditional rice production is backbreaking work and often has low yields.
Read more

Sweet potato diversity in Papua New Guinea

Everyone helps to record tuber weights at harvest in Papua New Guinea.
In Papua New Guinea farmers are involved in the selection of new sweet potato varieties to improve their food security.
Read more


A 'Silent Tsunami'

silent_tsunami cover
A 'Silent Tsunami': Global Food Security in the 21st Century (2008) booklet investigates the issue of food security, equity and sustainability.
Read more
Year level: 7-8,9-10
Issue: Australia's aid, Food security, Globalisation, Human rights, Poverty reduction
Country: Australia, Bangladesh

Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition

The Alliance Against Hunger and Malnutrition brings together national governments, the international community, civil society organisations and the private sector to eradicate hunger and malnutrition, contribute to food security actions and initiatives and coordinate and mobilise funds for national action within countries.

Asia and Australia's engagement with Asia: Indonesia

Australia's engagement with Asia: Indonesia includes six DVD chapters with related texts and worksheets developed by World Vision and the Australian Geography Teachers Association, suitable for years 3–10. Topics explore issues of diversity, food, water, urbanisation, interconnectedness and wellbeing.

Case studies of Cambodian farmers and farm workers

Although not designed as a teaching resource, this collection of 18 case studies of Cambodian farmers and rural workers provides valuable information about the social and economic skills, costs and pressures of making a living through agriculture. It includes specific costs, land area and an evaluation of future plans.

Common Threads

Plan International Australia's 'Common Threads: Weaving Child Rights into Global Education' is an Australian Curriculum–aligned teacher's guide for teaching young people aged 10–13 years. Common Threads has three modules: Exploring rights, Child poverty and Exploring the Convention on the Rights of the Child. Each module gives teachers a succinct outline of the topic in a global and an Australian context, reflective questions and useful references for going further. Lesson plans have activity sheets and videos to engage students. This well-structured print resource can be downloaded for free from the Plan website.

Developing Global Citizens CD-ROM

Developing global citizens CD image
The Developing Global Citizens (2010) CD-ROM integrates global perspectives into five primary and five secondary units of work using multimedia.
Read more
Year level: 3-4,5-6,7-8,9-10
Issue: Australia's aid, Environment, Food security, Globalisation, Human rights, Poverty reduction

Eat Local Feed Global

Eat Local Feed Global is a students' kit to support World Food Day and Australian Curriculum year 9 unit 1 Biomes and food security. It explores the way the world grows, stores, transports, sells and consumes food.

Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger

Feeding Minds, Fighting Hunger has information, interactive activities about the right to food and lesson modules to help create a greater awareness and understanding of hunger, malnutrition and food insecurity for primary and secondary students. Topics include: What are hunger and malnutrition and who are the hungry? Why are people hungry and malnourished? What can we do to help end hunger? The importance of conserving our aquatic resources through responsible fisheries and aquaculture (years 3–6)

Food 4 Thought

Oxfam’s interactive online resource, Food 4 Thought, aims to support students to become ethical, informed and active global citizens through the English curriculum. The two programs use an inquiry-based approach to explore a range of non-fiction, persuasive and multimodal texts, as well as youth-generated blogs, celebrity video diaries, campaign materials and animations. Year 7–8: Seeker, Lover, Keeper: How Food Shapes Who You Are Year 9–10: Another Crack in the Wall: The Global Food System in Crisis

Food and Agriculture Organization

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) aims to eliminate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition; make agriculture, forestry and fisheries more productive and sustainable; reduce rural poverty and increase resilience to disasters. There are country reports, multimedia, statistics and infographics and information about the multiple themes of improving food security.

Food for All

The Food for All (2008) booklet introduces teachers to factors contributing to food security for all people.
Read more
Year level: 5-6,7-8
Issue: Australia's aid, Food security, Globalisation, Human rights, Poverty reduction
Country: Australia

Food Force

This United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) website has six games to help students understand the complexities of delivering food aid to an area in crisis. There is also information about current WFP activities. Suitable for secondary students.

Forests: A Global Perspective

Forests a global perspective cover
The Forests: A Global Perspective (2011) booklet uses information, maps, graphs, photographs, and data to develop understanding about forests, the uses made of them and the actions taken to manage them sustainably.
Read more
Year level: 7-8,9-10
Issue: Australia's aid, Environment, Food security, Globalisation, Human rights, Poverty reduction
Country: Australia, India, Indonesia, Laos, Papua New Guinea, Sri Lanka, Vietnam

Free Rice

Free Rice is a non-profit website that is owned by and supports the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). Presented as a game, players are given a word with four alternative definitions to select from. For each correct answer, advertisers donate 10 grains of rice to the WFP. Players can also choose other subjects such as literature, maths, chemistry, languages and geography. Suitable for students from year 3 and above.

Global dimension

The Global Dimension website, funded by the education charity Think Global in the UK, provides access to teaching resources, case studies and background information. Resources can be searched by a number of criteria including learning area, topic, year level and price range. Access is through free registration and you can sign up for a quarterly newsletter.

Green revolution in East Timor

Seeds of Life, an Australian-funded program in Timor-Leste, is working to help poor farmers grow crops that are better suited to Timor-Leste's climate.

Seeds of Life, an Australian-funded program in Timor-Leste, is working to help poor farmers grow crops that are better suited to Timor-Leste's climate.

Issue: Food security
Country: Timor-Leste
Video Length: ??

Looking at Forests

Looking at forests cover
The Looking at Forests (2011) booklet of information and activities develops knowledge and understanding about forests at a local, national and global level.
Read more
Year level: 5-6,7-8
Issue: Environment, Food security, Globalisation, Poverty reduction
Country: Australia, Indonesia

MDG 1 Eradicate Extreme Hunger and Poverty

This video outlines the work being done to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal and uses the work of Habitat for Humanity in Bangladesh as an example of how Australia is assisting countries to achieve this goal.

This video outlines the work being done to achieve the first Millennium Development Goal and uses the work of Habitat for Humanity in Bangladesh as an example of how Australia is assisting countries to achieve this goal.

Issue: Food security
Country: Bangladesh
Video Length: ??

Our Day Project

Child Fund Connect's Our Day Project (26 minutes) combines video footage children in Australia, Laos, Vietnam and Timor-Leste have produced about their lives. It shows how daily life is very different – but also in many ways the same – in very different parts of the world.

Peace posters

Food security and education improve in peaceful environments. Poster images
Four posters highlight the importance of peace for a strong, healthy and productive life.
Read more
Year level: F-2,3-4,5-6,7-8
Issue: Education, Food security, Peace building
Country: Indonesia, Laos

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP)

The Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP) provides grants to twelve developing countries to improve agricultural output and improve their long-term food security prospects.

The United Nations World Food Programme

The United Nations World Food Programme provides emergency food relief to countries in crisis (such as famine or conflict), as well as working to prevent hunger and provide expertise in food security, nutrition, food procurement and food transport.

World Vision Malnutrition, Health and Poverty

This upper primary and lower secondary student activity sheet, accompanied by teacher notes, develops understanding of malnutrition and its connection with health and poverty. It uses a mapping activity to explore prevalence and statistics to explore potential change. A graphic organiser is used as a tool to encourage students to consider challenges and solutions.

Year 8 Geography: Urban growth in China

Asia Education Foundation's Urban growth in China module provides year 8 students with resources to examine rapid urbanisation in China. Resources assist students to gain insights into how rural migrants adjust to life in big cities and the displacement of many city-dwellers due to rapid building development.

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