Inequalities in the supply and consumption of resources

There are inequalities in the global distribution of resources. The balance between the supply and demand for resources affects a country's wealth and security.

Food security and food insecurity

Food security is when people have enough nutritious and affordable food to eat. Food insecurity is when people go hungry or are malnourished.

Wealthier countries import food and subsidise farming to make food more affordable. This creates a food surplus and there is plenty to go around. Poorer countries have a food deficit. They struggle to grow enough to feed people and cannot afford to subsidise farming or import more food.

Water surplus and water deficit

There is a fixed amount of water on the planet. Some is stored in the oceans and ice caps and some circulates as the water cycle. The amount of water available in an area is dependent on factors such as rainfall, temperature and population.

  • Higher rainfall leads to more water. Some places can have too much rainfall, which leads to flooding.
  • Higher temperatures cause evaporation. If water evaporates, then less is available for people to use.
  • Higher populations use more water. This means there is less available to share around.

Areas of water surplus have more water than they need. Excess water flows along rivers and out into the sea, but can become a problem if it floods the land. Areas of water deficit have too little water.

Energy security and energy insecurity

High income countries (HICs) and new emerging economies (NEEs) consume a lot of energy. The people living in these countries are usually linked to a national electricity grid. They use a lot of technology in their lives and have a high standard of living. Factories in NEEs also use energy to manufacture products. Low income countries (LICs) use less energy. Many people living in LICs are not connected to an electricity grid, but rely on primary energy sources, such as fuel-wood or animal dung.

Some countries produce large supplies of energy. They may have fossil fuel reserves or access to other energy sources, such as geothermal heat. Other countries are dependent upon imported fuel. Fuel prices are set by the exporting countries and so those importing fuel often have to pay high prices.

Places that have energy security produce a high percentage of the energy that they consume. Places that have energy insecurity consume more than they produce. Energy security is determined by the balance between the amount of energy produced in that country and energy imported from abroad.

The opposite of food security is food insecurity. The opposite of water surplus is water deficit. The opposite of energy security is energy insecurity.