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21 Sep, 2014

Over 800 million world’s population hungry, says UN report

UNITED NATIONS, Sept. 16 (Xinhua) — One in nine people in the world — or more than 800 million — suffer from hunger, a UN spokesman said here Tuesday, adding that the number of hungry people has dropped by more than 100 million in the past ten years and by more than 200 million in the past two decades.

The trend in hunger reduction in developing countries means that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 is within reach with the requisite political commitment, UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said at a press conference.

The annual report is published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Program (WFP).

More than 800 million people — or one in every nine on the planet — suffer from hunger, but a new joint UN agency report released Tuesday stated that the Millennium Development Goals ( MDGs) of halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 is still within reach, he said.

MDGs are a set of eight anti-poverty targets to be reached by 2015.

The report confirmed a positive trend, which has seen the number of hungry people decline globally by more than 100 million over the last decade and by more than 200 million since 1990-92.

“China alone has reduced the number of undernourished people by 138 million in this period, while the 10 countries that have achieved greatest success in reducing the total number of hungry people in proportion to their national population are: Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cuba, Georgia, Ghana, Kuwait, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Thailand and Venezuela,” FAO said in a press release.

To date, 63 developing countries have reached the MDGs, and six more are on track to reach it by 2015, said the report.

“This is proof that we can win the war against hunger and should inspire countries to move forward, with the assistance of the international community as needed,” the heads of the three UN food agencies wrote in their foreword to the report.

The report noted that access to food has improved rapidly and significantly in countries that have experienced economic progress, notably in Eastern and Southeastern Asia.

Food access also improved in Southern Asia and Latin America, but mainly in countries with adequate safety nets and other forms of social protection. Despite significant progress overall, several regions and sub-regions lag behind.

In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than one in four people remain chronically undernourished, while Asia, the world’s most populous region, is also home to the majority of the hungry — 526 million people, said the report.

“Very slow progress was recorded in several African countries, including Botswana, Cote d’Ivoire, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Uganda, Tanzania and Zambia, where the number as well as prevalence of undernourished people in the population increased, according to the report.

The same was true of Asian countries such as the Democratic Republic of Korea, Iraq, Tajikistan and Uzbekistan, among others. In Latin America, El Salvador and Guatemala show relatively slow progress, despite the good performance of the region as a whole.

With the number of undernourished people remaining ” unacceptably high,” the agency heads stressed the need to renew the political commitment to tackle hunger and to transform it into concrete actions.

Latin America and the Caribbean have made the greatest overall strides in increasing food security. Meanwhile Oceania has accomplished only modest improvement. The report specified that hunger eradication requires establishing an enabling environment and an integrated approach.

This year’s report includes seven case studies — Bolivia, Brazil, Haiti, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi and Yemen — that highlight some of the ways countries tackle hunger and how external events may influence capacity to deliver on achieving food security and nutrition objectives.

The findings and recommendations of the report will be discussed by governments, civil society, and private sector representatives at the Oct. 13-18 meeting of the Committee on World Food Security, at FAO headquarters in Rome.

The report will also be a focus of the Second International Conference on Nutrition in Rome from Nov. 19-21, which FAO is jointly organizing with the World Health Organization. This high- level intergovernmental meeting seeks renewed political commitment to combat malnutrition with the overall goal of improving diets and raising nutrition levels.