Hunger Overview

Hunger Overview

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What's Inside

Key findings of the FAO report entitled: State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 (released in May 2015) are as follows, (please click here to access):

Indian scenario

• India still has the second-highest estimated number of undernourished people in the world.

• India will be able to reach neither the World Food Summit (WFS) nor the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets.

• It is estimated that the number of undernourished people in India will rise from 189.9 million in 2010-12 to 194.6 million in 2014-16.

• Although India reduced the number of undernourished people by 9.6 percent from 210.1 million during 1990-92 to 189.9 million during 2010-12, China reduced the number of undernourished people by 43.5 percent from 289 million during 1990-92 to 163.2 million during 2010-12.

• India has reduced the proportion of undernourished in the population from 23.7% in 1990-92 to 15.6% in 2010-12. During 2014-16, the proportion of undernourished in the population is estimated to be 15.2%.

• China has reduced the proportion of undernourished in the population from 23.9% in 1990-92 to 11.7% in 2010-12. During 2014-16, the proportion of undernourished in the population is estimated to be 9.3%.

• The evolution of hunger trends in India has a significant influence on results for the South Asia region. Higher world food prices, observed since the late 2000s, have not been entirely transmitted into domestic prices, especially in large countries such as India. In India, the extended food distribution programme also contributed to this positive outcome. Higher economic growth has not been fully translated into higher food consumption, let alone better diets overall, suggesting that the poor and hungry may have failed to benefit much from overall growth.

• Explanations offered for the inconsistency between food consumption and income levels in India range from increasing inequalities, to poor data, to the challenges of capturing the changing energy requirements of the population. But the puzzle still seems to be unresolved; and calorie consumption is lower than what per capita incomes and poverty rates would suggest.

• Much more progress can be achieved in the future by combining policy interventions that enhance both food availability and utilization.

Global scenario

• About 795 million people are undernourished globally, down 167 million over the last decade, and 216 million less than in 1990–92. The decline is more pronounced in developing regions, despite significant population growth. In recent years, progress has been hindered by slower and less inclusive economic growth as well as political instability in some developing regions, such as Central Africa and western Asia.

• The year 2015 marks the end of the monitoring period for the Millennium Development Goal targets. For the developing regions as a whole, the share of undernourished people in the total population has decreased from 23.3 percent in 1990–92 to 12.9 per cent. Some regions, such as Latin America, the east and south-eastern regions of Asia, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and the northern and western regions of Africa have made fast progress. Progress was also recorded in southern Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and southern and eastern Africa, but at too slow a pace to reach the MDG 1c target of halving the proportion of the chronically undernourished.

• A total of 72 developing countries out of 129, or more than half the countries monitored, have reached the MDG 1c hunger target. Most enjoyed stable political conditions and economic growth, often accompanied by social protection policies targeted at vulnerable population groups.

• For the developing regions as a whole, the two indicators of MDG 1c – the prevalence of undernourishment and the proportion of underweight children under 5 years of age – have both declined. In some regions, including western Africa, south-eastern Asia and South America, undernourishment declined faster than the rate for child underweight, suggesting room for improving the quality of diets, hygiene conditions and access to clean water, particularly for poorer population groups.

• Economic growth is a key success factor for reducing undernourishment, but it has to be inclusive and provide opportunities for improving the livelihoods of the poor. Enhancing the productivity and incomes of smallholder family farmers is key to progress.

• Social protection systems have been critical in fostering progress towards the MDG 1 hunger and poverty targets in a number of developing countries. Social protection directly contributes to the reduction of poverty, hunger and malnutrition by promoting income security and access to better nutrition, health care and education. By improving human capacities and mitigating the impacts of shocks, social protection fosters the ability of the poor to participate in growth through better access to employment.

• In many countries that have failed to reach the international hunger targets, natural and human-induced disasters or political instability have resulted in protracted crises with increased vulnerability and food insecurity of large parts of the population. In such contexts, measures to protect vulnerable population groups and improve livelihoods have been difficult to implement or ineffective.


Undernourishment: A state, lasting for at least one year, of inability to acquire enough food, defined as a level of food intake insufficient to meet dietary energy requirements. For the purposes of this report, hunger was defined as being synonymous with chronic undernourishment.

Rural Expert

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