Global hunger is falling, but malnutrition still a big issue, says UN report

By Nathan Gray

- Last updated on GMT

Related tags Malnutrition

Despite overall progress in reducing global hunger, there are stark differences between different regions, says the report.
Despite overall progress in reducing global hunger, there are stark differences between different regions, says the report.
The number of hungry people has fallen by more than 100 million over the last decade; however 805 million people around the world are still chronically undernourished, according to a new joint UN report.

A new report from three United Nations agencies - the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) - has confirmed a positive trend which has seen the number of hungry people decline by more than 100 million globally over the last decade - and by more than 200 million since 1990-92.

Indeed, the prevalence of undernourishment has fallen from 18.7% to 11.3% globally and from 23.4% to 13.5% in developing countries, said the report.

However, the report warned that 805 million people across the world remain chronically malnourished – with ‘uneven’ progress in reducing hunger on a global scale.

“Despite overall progress, marked differences across regions persist. Latin America and the Caribbean have made the greatest overall progress in increasing food security with modest progress in sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia, which have been afflicted by natural disasters and conflict,” states the report​.

Despite significant progress overall, several regions and sub-regions continue to lag behind, said the report. In Sub-Saharan Africa, for example, more than one in four people remain chronically undernourished, while Asia - the world's most populous region - is also home to the majority of the hungry, 526 million people.

changing hunger

Winning the war on hunger

According to the report, the overall trend in hunger reduction in developing countries means that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 is within reach, "if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up​.”

Indeed, of the 63 countries which have already reached the MDG target, 25 have also achieved the more ambitious World Food Summit (WFS) target of halving the number​ of undernourished people by 2015. However, the report indicated that time has run out on reaching the WFS target at the global level.

"This is proof that we can win the war against hunger and should inspire countries to move forward, with the assistance of the international community as needed,"​ the heads of FAO, IFAD and WFP, José Graziano da Silva, Kanayo F. Nwanze and Ertharin Cousin, wrote in their foreword to the report.

The trio stressed that "accelerated, substantial and sustainable hunger reduction is possible with the requisite political commitment,"​ and that "this has to be well informed by sound understanding of national challenges, relevant policy options, broad participation and lessons from other experiences."​  

Coordinated action

With the number of undernourished people remaining "unacceptably high", the report and agency heads also stressed the need to renew political commitment to tackle hunger, and to transform such commitments into concrete actions.

“Sustained political commitment at the highest level, with food security and nutrition as top priorities, is a prerequisite for hunger eradication,”​ said the report.

“Hunger reduction requires an integrated approach, and needs to include: public and private investments to raise agricultural productivity; better access to inputs, land, services, technologies and markets; measures to promote rural development; social protection for the most vulnerable, including strengthening their resilience to conflicts and natural disasters; and specific nutrition programmes, particularly to address micronutrient deficiencies in mothers and children under five.”

  State of Food Insecurity in the World

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