World hunger falls but 805 mn still chronically under-nourished
Despite the overall progress made in global hunger reduction, 805 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished in 2012-14, down more than 100 million over the last decade, and 209 million lower than in 1990-92, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) said.
In the same period, the prevalence of undernourishment has fallen from 18.7 to 11.3 percent globally and from 23.4 to 13.5 percent for developing countries, the latest estimates by FAO show.
Despite overall progress, marked differences across regions persist. Latin America and the Caribbean have made the greatest overall progress in increasing food security while modest progress was made in sub-Saharan Africa and western Asia, which have been afflicted by natural disasters and conflict, FAO’s Sub-regional Coordinator for the Gulf Cooperation Council States and Yemen, Adrianus Spijkers, said in a press conference Monday at the United Arab Emirates’ (UAE) environment and water ministry to mark the launch of FAO’s latest report, “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014” (SOFI 2014).
FAO says the figures demonstrate that the hunger target of the Millennium Development Goal – of halving the proportion of undernourished people in developing countries by 2015 – is within reach.
The FAO representative noted that since 1990-92, 63 countries have reached the hunger target of Millennium Development Goal, MDG-1, and 25 countries have achieved the more stringent World Food Summit (WFS)’s target.
Of the 63 developing countries, 11 already had undernourishment levels below 5 percent (the methodological limit that can assure significance of the results different from zero) in 1990-1992 and have been able to keep it in that level, and are therefore not the prime focus of FAO’s 2014 report.
Sustained political commitment is at the highest level, with food security and nutrition as top priorities, is a prerequisite for hunger eradication. The case studies of the SOFI 2014 report show that regions such as Africa and the Latin America and the Caribbean, as well as individual countries have strengthened their political commitment to food security and nutrition.
FAO emphasised that hunger reduction required an integrated approach, and needed 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.
According to the SOFI 2014 report, China alone has reduced the number of undernourished people by 138 million in this period, while the 10 countries that have achieved greatest success in reducing the total number of hungry people in proportion to their national population are Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cuba, Georgia, Ghana, Kuwait, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Thailand and Venezuela.
Despite this overall progress in developing countries as a whole, FAO says there is still considerable room to reduce undernourishment and improve food security.
SOFI 2014 shows that advances in reducing world hunger require political commitment expressed through appropriate policies, programmes, legal frameworks and sufficient resources. SOFI 2014 highlights examples of successful national efforts to reduce hunger, but also identifies factors that can act as bottlenecks to progress.
“Political commitment of governments is increasingly being translated into comprehensive and effective action, with strengthened engagement of non-state actors. These efforts are bringing the goal of achieving food security in our lifetime closer to reality,” FAO Director-General Joss Graziano da Silva said in the new report.