NEW YORK – From 2005 through 2013, it appeared that we were making progress on the global war against hunger. Today, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released its 202-page report on The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World. The results indicate that, since 2014, “the war against hunger is, in fact, moving in the wrong direction.”
The FAO report estimates that 821 million people suffered from hunger in 2017, an increase of six million over 2016 and 37.3 million more than 2014 when the global total was 783.7 million. 821 million is a staggering number of people – nearly 11% of the world’s population.
Hunger is defined as either “a short-term physical discomfort” due to chronic food shortages or prolonged, severe cases of a “life-threatening lack of food.”
Almost all of the hungry people live in lower-to-middle-income countries.
Forty-five percent of all child deaths are due to poor nutrition. Nearly 151 million children suffer from stunting because of a lack of food, malnutrition, protein deficiency, a combination of the three.
The great irony in the report is that the world produces enough food to feed everyone adequately. Poverty is cited as the principal cause of hunger. There are many people in the world who . . .
- Do not have enough income to purchase food
- Do not have enough land to grow their own food
- Do not have access to nutritious food
The relationship between poverty is a vicious cycle. When people do not have access to food, they become sick. If they are sick, they cannot work. If they cannot work, they cannot generate income and cannot afford to buy the food they need to remain healthy and strong.
Conflict is another major contributor to hunger. Over 50% of the people listed as hungry live in areas “affected by conflict.” Most of the 19 countries listed in the report where hunger is rampant are in Africa and include Yemen, Somalia, and the DRC.
Although Asia leads the world in the sheer number of millions of people who are undernourished (515 million) it is also by far the most populous of the sector surveyed. The good news is that the number of hungry in Asia has steadily and almost continually declined since 2005 when 686 million were counted in the hungry category. That represents a reduction of nearly 28%.
On the other hand, while the number of hungry in Africa (256 million) is just slightly less than the Asian total, not a single sub-sector of the continent has shown improvement. In fact, the number of hungry in Africa has increased by 60 million over the same period, an increase of 30%.
The report indicates that the agency has shifted from directly addressing hunger to reducing “severe food insecurity.”
Target 2.2 of the Sustainable Development Goals is to “By 2030, end all forms of malnutrition, including achieving, by 2025, the internationally agreed targets on stunting and wasting in children under five years of age, and address the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, and old persons.”
Look for more news about global hunger as we approach World Hunger Day on October 16th.
- NPR News, The Fight Against World Hunger Is Going In The Wrong Direction
- Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World
- World Hunger.org, Hunger Notes
- By Alex Proimos from Sydney, Australia (Eyes of Hunger) [CC BY 2.0], via Wikimedia Commons