Cutting Hunger in Half – Will We Reach the Target?

Posted by on September 19th, 2014 | 0 Comments »

Since the 1950s, hunger eradication has been at the top of the agenda for the international development and food security community. FAO’s recently released annual report, the State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI), shows that progress in the fight to end hunger is being made. The report highlights that global hunger reduction continues: 805 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished, down more than 100 million over the last decade, and 209 million lower than in 1990-1992. At the same time, the global rate of population experiencing undernourishment has fallen from 18.7 percent to 11.23 percent.

The hunger reduction target of the Millennium Development Goals (Goal 1) established a baseline date of 1990-92, with a goal of cutting hunger in half in developing countries by 2015. This goal is within reach, but renewed dedication to make progress is urgently needed to meet the goal by 2015.

graph 1

Regional differences are apparent in the report. One of the most successful regions in reducing the prevalence of undernourishment is Latin America, followed by modest progress in Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia. The progress in Sub-Saharan Africa and Western Asia is, at the same time, challenged by natural disasters and conflicts. GHI and the Inter-American Development Bank (IDB) highlighted Latin America’s progress in our recently published report, The Next Global Breadbasket: How Latin America Can Feed the World, which describes how the region can help feed the world in the coming decades.

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The case studies in the 2014 SOFI Report describe how political commitment to investing in food security and nutrition is foundational for subsequent progress. Such government actions taken by many countries have been welcomed by the FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva, stating, “Political commitment of governments is increasingly being translated into comprehensive and effective action, India has recently approved its National Food Security Act scales up the country’s effort to end hunger.” GHI’s upcoming 2014 GAP Report® to be released on October 15 at the World Food Prize, will discuss India’s commitment to food security, and will provide insight into how innovations in science and technology can contribute to agricultural productivity and food security.

While the government’s role is critical in reducing food insecurity, private investments from farmers, civil society, and private sector must also play a major role in raising agricultural productivity and to expand access to improved seeds, crop protection products, machinery, water and irrigation, and advisory services. Farmers also need access to risk management tools and credit to be successful and to improve their livelihoods and incomes. And safety net programs must also be in place to help the most resource-poor be able to access nutrition. The role of the government is to forge an “enabling environment” that will establish incentives along the entire agricultural value chain to end hunger malnutrition, and food insecurity.

We must not only cut hunger in half by 2015, but strive in future years to eradicate hunger from the planet. Let us renew our focus, mobilize our energy, create new partnerships, and make a commitment—to achieve a world free from hunger by 2030. This must be the new and achievable target!


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