How Effective Are International Efforts to Ease the Problem of Global Hunger?

Topics: Food and Agriculture Organization, United Nations, Malnutrition Pages: 5 (1182 words) Published: September 4, 2013
Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Economic and Social Development Department
September 2010

Global hunger declining, but still unacceptably high
International hunger targets difficult to reach

● The number of hungry has declined, but

remains unacceptably high
● Despite the decline, the ability to achieve

international hunger targets such as MDG1 is still at risk
● Governments should encourage increased

At close to one billion, the number of undernourished people in the world remains unacceptably high in 2010 despite an expected decline – the first in 15 years. This decline is largely attributable to a more favourable economic environment in 2010 – particularly in developing countries – and the fall in both international and domestic food prices since 2008. The recent increase in food prices, if it persists, will create additional obstacles in the fight to further reduce hunger. FAO estimates that a total of 925 million people are undernourished in 2010 compared with 1.023 billion in 2009. That is higher than before the food and economic crises of 2008-2009 and higher than the level that existed when world leaders agreed to reduce the number of hungry by half at the World Food Summit in 1996 (Figure 1). Most of the world’s hungry live in developing countries, where they account for 16 percent of the population. While this figure marks an improvement compared to 2009, it is still well above the target set by the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 of halving the proportion of undernourished people in developing countries from 20 percent in 1990-92 to 10 percent in 2015 (Figure 2).

investment in agriculture, expand safety nets, and enhance income-generating activities for the rural and urban poor.

Better access is key
Global cereal harvests have been strong for the past several years, even as the number of undernourished people was rising. The overall improvement in food security in 2010 is thus primarily a result of better access to food due to the improvement in economic conditions, particularly in developing countries, combined with lower food prices. The International Monetary Fund estimates that world economic output will increase by 4.2 percent in 2010, faster than previously expected, following a contraction of 0.6 percent in 2009. In general, income is growing faster in emerging economies and developing countries than it is in developed countries. The World Bank estimates that private capital inflows to developing countries are also increasing faster than originally expected. In parallel, international and domestic cereal prices have declined from their 2008 peaks, reflecting two consecutive years of record yields. While production



Number of undernourished people in the world, 1969–71 to 2010 Millions 1 050 1 000 950 900 850 800 750
1995–97 1969–71 1990–92 1979–81 2000–02 2005–07 2008 2009

Proportion of undernourished people in developing countries, 1969–71 to 2010 Percentage of undernourished
35 30 25 2010 20 15 10 5

1969– 71

1979 –81 1990 –92 2000 –02 2008 1995 –97 2009

2005 –07 2010

Note: Figures for 2009 and 2010 are estimated by FAO with input from the United States Department of Agriculture, Economic Research Service. Source: FAO.

Source: FAO.

Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations

Economic and Social Development Department
September 2010

in 2010 is forecast to be lower, the overall supply situation is considered as adequate. However, food prices in most low-income food-deficit countries remain above the pre-crisis level, negatively affecting access to food by vulnerable populations.

Insufficient resilience to economic shocks
The analysis of hunger during crisis and recovery brings to the fore the insufficient resilience to economic shocks of many poor countries and households. Lack of appropriate mechanisms to deal with the shocks or to protect the most vulnerable populations...
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