1 in 8 in the world going hungry: UN

2012-10-09 14:01

Rome - One out of every eight people in the world is chronically undernourished, the United Nations' food agencies said on Tuesday, warning that progress to reduce hunger has slowed since 2007/08 when high food prices sparked riots in several poor countries.

In their latest report on food insecurity, the UN agencies estimated that 868 million people were suffering hunger in 2010-2012, or about 12.5% of the world's population, down more sharply than previously estimated from about 1 billion, or 18.6% in 1990-92.

The new figures are lower than the last estimates for recent years that pegged the number of hungry people at 925 million in 2010 and 1.02 billion in 2009.

"That is better news than we have had in the past, but it still means that one person in every eight goes hungry. That is unacceptable, especially when we live in a world of plenty," said Jose Graziano da Silva, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO).

"Most of the progress in hunger reduction was made until 2006, as food price levels continued to decline. With the rise in food prices and the economic crisis that followed, there have been many fewer advances," he warned.

Food prices have been on an upward trend over the past few months, fuelled by drought in the United States, Russia and other major exporters, and FAO expects prices to remain close to levels reached during the 2008 food crisis.

2015 deadline

But Graziano da Silva said the world can still achieve the Millennium Development Goal to halve the prevalence of undernourishment in the developing world by 2015 if efforts are boosted to reverse the slowdown in progress.

The goal is one of a series of targets adopted by world leaders at the United Nations in 2000 to slash poverty, hunger and disease in poor countries by 2015.

Broad-based economic recovery, especially in the agriculture sector, will be crucial for sustained hunger reduction, according to the report by FAO, the World Food Programme (WFP) and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

"Agricultural growth involving smallholders, especially women, will be most effective in reducing extreme poverty and hunger when it generates employment for the poor," the agencies said.

They said factors holding up progress include growing biofuel demand, financial speculation in food commodity markets and inefficiencies in food supply and distribution which lead to almost a third of total production being wasted.

FAO, WFP and IFAD define undernourishment, or hunger, in the State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 (SOFI) report as "food intake that is insufficient to meet dietary energy requirements continuously".

2008 economic crisis

The vast majority of people suffering hunger, 852 million, live in developing countries, where the prevalence of undernourishment is estimated at 14.9%, the report found.

In the past two decades hunger fell nearly 30% in Asia and the Pacific, thanks to socio-economic progress. Africa was the only region where the number of hungry grew over the period, to 239 million in 2010-12 from 175 million in 1990-92.

Analysts from FAO and WFP said the new figures followed adjustments to population size and human height estimates.

They also took into account a more detailed assessment of food availability and the amount of food wasted along the supply chain.

The new numbers suggest the impact of the 2008 economic crisis and the spike in international food prices had a less pronounced impact in many developing countries than was feared, the agencies said, with many governments succeeding in cushioning the shocks and protecting the most vulnerable.

  • mike.boylen - 2012-10-09 14:36

    Notice that the programmes are working in Asia and the Pacific where people are willing to help themselves. I'm afraid westerners see Africa as a bottomless pit and are growing tired of trying to help people who simply sit with begging bowls in their hands, expecting the west to help them and always re-electing the same old despots.

      msendi - 2012-10-09 14:41

      Hatred can limit your thinking ability…

      Badger - 2012-10-09 15:09

      No Msendi, IT'S FACT !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • delish7564 - 2012-10-09 14:38

    What they should be encouraging are fewer children and Governments giving Aid to the people who need it rather than putting it into their bank accounts. With all the money given to Africa over the years, given that there are natural disasters, some of which can't be avoided, these stats should be much better, so where is all the money going, as if we didn't know!!

  • gerhard.kress.3 - 2012-10-09 14:40

    Mr President, how many go hungry every day in South Africa???

      msendi - 2012-10-09 14:46

      It is not his duty to go around every evenings to count those who go to bed with nothing in their stomachs.

      Desilusionada - 2012-10-09 15:03

      @msendi You are right. It is his job to appoint people that can (count) and do so (the counting). He has done neither. Whatever smart, glib comment you post will not make people less hungry in South Africa or put bread on their table. And if You want to be "honest, what else", perhaps you could explain if you really believe that he Mr.President actually worries about who go and sleep hungry? Especially when he drives through the poorest of settlements with a R203 mil account in his hand. [Or do I have it wrong? He never drives through, (never-mind walking through) an, to put it mildly, informal settlement?] Hmm... Wonder if he has the telephone number of Mrs. Banda?....

      Badger - 2012-10-09 15:12

      No Msendi, he goes home (to a mansion)and fills his already bloated belly with the finer things in life. He could have feb 2 million people well with the money he spent on his "village" Jeeezzz Boet, must I draw you a picture ????

      AnthonyfromAfrica - 2012-10-09 19:55

      Msendi, Yes, it IS his duty, to count EVERY EVENING, how many South Africans go hungry to bed !!!

  • J.Stephen.Whiteley - 2012-10-09 14:47

    On the one hand: the jockeys who prepare for war; on the other the greens who do not want to exploit underground energy. "Those whom the gods destroy ... "

  • David - 2012-10-09 14:54

    Its sad but there is no amount of hand outs that will solve this. The only way to save starving countries is to completely change the mindsets of thier people and its leaders.

  • joe.mase.7 - 2012-10-09 15:08

    Stop all the wars; re-channel the war money to save lives... clearly 'we' are not interested, in saving lives. Man is afterall and animal. so sad.

  • Badger - 2012-10-09 15:09

    "Feed The Homeless To The Hungry" Problem solved !!!!!

      nadineelvina.francis - 2012-10-09 15:44

      Thats sick and disgusting and poor hungry homeless people are not a joke.

      Badger - 2012-10-09 15:58

      Jeeeezzzz Nadine, cry me a river. Clearly a 'stock shortage' in the "Sense of Humour" department !!!!

  • arthur.salvado - 2012-10-10 07:37

    You have to have a sense of humour, but there's no humor in poverty or hunger. Enough said

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