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Updated On: Monday, 16 September 2019

New UN Report Shows Decreased Hunger Worldwide

Content by: South-South News

29 May 2015, New York, USA | Brendan Pastor – A new United Nations report says the total number of persons globally in conditions of hunger has dropped to 795 million. That's 216 million fewer than in 1992.

In the global South, the prevalence of undernourishment, which measures the proportion of people who are unable to consume enough food for an active and healthy life, has declined to 12.9 percent of the population, down from 23.3 percent a quarter of a century ago.

While this is undoubtedly a cause to celebrate, the success is only in aggregate figures. At regional and local levels, the situation becomes more complicated. Not to mention the fact that nearly 800 million people are still without food globally.

"As usual there are many ways of looking at it, one can look at it as a glass half-full or a glass half-empty," Dr. Jomo Kwame Sundaram, assistant director-general for economic and social development at the Food and Agricultural Organization, said.

"The regions which have made the most progress have been East Asia, South-East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean. South Asia has made some progress but has been modest, and Sub-Saharan Africa has actually seen an increase in the number of hungry people, but it has nonetheless made some progress in terms of the proportion of hungry people, considering the high population growth rate during this period."

The only sub-region which has experienced an increase in the number of hungry people has been West Asia

"Everywhere else there has been some progress but not quite enough," Sundaram notes.

Moreover, while tremendous efforts have been made in reducing hunger as 72 of the 129 focus countries in the Millennium Development Goals have met their targets – effectively halving the proportion of hungry – the numbers suggest a slowing in the pace of reduction.

Predictably, situations such as conflict, volatile prices, and rising inequalities have contributed to localized spikes in hunger and malnourishment. The problem is especially acute in sub-Saharan Africa, Ukraine and parts of the Middle East, each of which is undergoing some form of national or regional crisis.

Additionally, extreme weather events, natural disasters, political instability and civil strife have all impeded progress – 24 African countries currently face food crises, twice as many as in 1990; around one of every five of the world's undernourished lives in crisis environments characterized by weak governance and acute vulnerability to death and disease.

Just this week, it was announced that South Sudan is facing its worst hunger crisis in the country's short history.

"The projection for the coming lean season, which is the next 4 months, is that there will be 4.6 million people across South Sudan that are in urgent need of humanitarian assistance and are acutely food insecure," Shaun Hughes, head of WFP in South Sudan, said. "In terms of the distribution slightly more than half of those 2.5 million are found in the most conflict affected areas that are still experiencing displacement within the current civil war in Greater Upper Nile."

Alongside these challenges, rising populations also put considerable strain on the world's food supply. Coupled with catastrophic weather events and the future uncertainties associated with climate change, it makes sense that hunger projections for the future can be somewhat bleak.

The FAO and other food organizations have suggested that economic growth offers a viable solution to the hunger crisis, assuming such growth is inclusive and sustainable, thus allowing the more equitable distribution and calmer pricing of resources.

Also, improved agricultural productivity can go significant ways to increasing food supplies across regions. A recent UN Forum on Forests has suggested that forested areas offer unique supplemental assistance to agricultural yields, but regulatory changes are needed to harness that potential.

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