Report: Number chronically hungry down, but still substantial

Hands-holding-an-empty-bowl_shutterstock_68377594_blogApproximately 26 million less people around the world suffered from chronic hunger from 2011-2013 compared to those from 2010-2012, according to an article by the World Food Program.

Defined as “not getting enough food to lead active and healthy lives,” the article states that chronic hunger affected roughly 842 million people between 2011 and 2013, down from 868 million reported for the 2010-12 period. While the majority of chronically hungry people live in developing regions, 15.7 million are living in developed countries. These statistics were part of a report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programe (WFP).

“Continued economic growth in developing countries has improved incomes and access to food. Recent pick-up in agricultural productivity growth, supported by increased public investment and renewed interest of private investors in agriculture, has improved food availability. In addition, in some countries remittances from migrants are playing a role in reducing poverty, leading to better diets and progress in food security. They can also contribute towards boosting productive investments by smallholder farmers,” the article states.

However, despite the reduction in the overall number of those who are chronically hungry, less progress has been made in regions such as Sub-Saharan Africa, which has the highest prevalence of undernourishment, with one in four Africans (24.8%)  still estimated to be hungry. The article also states that statistics show no recent progress is being made in Western Asia.

Other reductions in both the number of hungry and prevalence of undernourishment have occurred in Southern Asia and Northern Africa along with most countries of East Asia, Southeastern Asia, and in Latin America.

Although the statistics in the reports represent uneven data, developing regions as a whole have made significant progress towards reaching the target of halving the proportion of hungry people by 2015, which was developed as part of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). If the average annual decline since 1990 continues to 2015, the prevalence of undernourishment will reach a level close to the MDG hunger target. However, on a global level this goal remains out of reach.

Despite this, the FAO, IFAD and WFP urged countries “to make considerable and immediate additional efforts” to meet the MDG and WFS targets.

“With a final push in the next couple of years, we can still reach the MDG target,” wrote the heads of FAO, IFAD and WFP, José Graziano da Silva, Kanayo F. Nwanze and Ertharin Cousin in their foreword to the report.

“Policies aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity and increasing food availability, especially when small [land] holders are targeted, can achieve hunger reduction even where poverty is widespread. When they are combined with social protection and other measures that increase the incomes of poor families, they can have an even more positive effect and spur rural development, by creating vibrant markets and employment opportunities, resulting in equitable economic growth,” the agency heads said.

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