Hunger Overview

Hunger Overview

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According to The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012, produced by FAO, WFP, IFAD,

• New estimates suggest that the increase in hunger during 2007–10 – the period characterized by food price and economic crises – was less severe than previously estimated. More recent GDP estimates suggest that the “great recession” of 2008–09 resulted in only a mild slowdown in GDP growth in many developing countries, and increases in domestic staple food prices were very small in China, India and Indonesia (the three largest developing countries).

• Total number of undernourished people in India stood at 240 million during 1990-1992, 224 million in 1999-2001, 238 million in 2004-06, 227 million during 2007-2009 and 217 million during 2010-2012.

• Proportion of undernourished in total population of India stood at 26.9 percent during 1990-1992, 21.3 percent during 1999-2001, 20.9 percent during 2004-06, 19.0 percent during 2007-2009 and 17.5 percent during 2010-2012.

• In India, stunting and iron and iodine deficiencies result in productivity losses equivalent to 2.95 percent of GDP annually.

• In India, land distribution is more unequal, and yield growth has not sparked as much reduction in poverty and undernourishment.

• 41.9 percent of arable land in India during 2008 was equipped for irrigation as compared to 40.1 percent in 2004. 

• Cereal dependency ratio in India [i.e. cereal imports divided by {(cereal production plus cereal import)-cereal export}] stood at 0.5 percent in 2008 as compared to 1.5 percent in 2007. 

• Indian villages close to towns and cities have a better record of reducing poverty than others.

• An evaluation of India’s Mid-Day Meals Programme found that girls in the programme were 30 percent more likely to complete primary school.

• Subsidies, which act as safety nets to poor are widely used in Bangladesh, India and throughout the Near East. 

• In Bangladesh, the share of government spending going to health is about double that of the country’s large neighbours, India and Pakistan.

• About 870 million people are estimated to have been undernourished (in terms of dietary energy supply) in the period 2010–12. This figure represents 12.5 percent of the global population, or one in eight people. The vast majority of these, 852 million, live in developing countries, where the prevalence of undernourishment is now estimated at 14.9 percent of the population.

• The global number of hungry people declined by 132 million between 1990-92 and 2010-12, or from 18.6 percent to 12.5 percent of the world's population, and from 23.2 percent to 14.9 percent in developing countries - putting the MDG target within reach if adequate, appropriate actions are taken. 

• The new estimates show that progress in reducing hunger during the past 20 years has been better than previously believed, and that, given renewed efforts, it may be possible to reach the MDG hunger target at the global level by 2015. However, the number of people suffering from chronic undernourishment is still unacceptably high, and eradication of hunger remains a major global challenge. 

• The number of hungry declined more sharply between 1990 and 2007 than previously believed. Since 2007-2008, however, global progress in reducing hunger has slowed and leveled off. As a result, the developing world as a whole is found to be much closer to achieving the MDG target of reducing by half the percentage of people suffering from chronic hunger by 2015.

• The current assessment pegs the undernourishment estimate for developing countries at slightly more than 23.2 percent of the population in 1990–92 (substantially higher than previously estimated), thus implying an MDG target of 11.6 percent for 2015. If the average annual decline of the past 20 years continues to 2015, the prevalence of undernourishment in developing countries would reach 12.5 percent, still above the MDG target, but much closer to it than previously estimated.

• The share of the world’s undernourished people has declined most rapidly in South-Eastern Asia and Eastern Asia (from 13.4 to 7.5 percent and from 26.1 to 19.2 percent, respectively), while declining from 6.5 to 5.6 percent in Latin America. Meanwhile, the share has increased from 32.7 to 35.0 percent in Southern Asia, from 17.0 to 27.0 percent in sub-Saharan Africa and from 1.3 to 2.9 percent in Western Asia and Northern Africa.

• For developing countries as a whole, the prevalence of undernourishment has fallen from 23.2 to 14.9 percent over the period 1990–2010, while the incidence of poverty has declined from 47.5 to 22.4 percent, and that of child mortality from 9.5 to 6.1 percent.

• Agricultural growth is particularly effective in reducing hunger and malnutrition. Most of the extreme poor depend on agriculture and related activities for a significant part of their livelihoods. Agricultural growth involving smallholders, especially women, will be most effective in reducing extreme poverty and hunger when it increases returns to labour and generates employment for the poor.

• Measures such as cash transfers, food vouchers or health insurance are needed for the most vulnerable who often cannot take immediate advantage of growth opportunities.


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