9 October 2012, Rome – Nearly 870 million people, or one in eight, suffered from chronic undernourishment in 2010-2012, according to the new UN hunger report released today.
The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2012 was jointly published by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
According to the report, progress in reducing hunger during the past 20 years has been better than previously believed, and, given renewed efforts, it may be possible to reach the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the share of hungry people in the developing world by 2015.
However, the report stresses that the number of people suffering from chronic undernourishment is still unacceptably high, with a vast majority of the hungry, 852 million, living in developing countries.
This year’s report also discusses the role of economic growth in reducing undernourishment. Sustainable agricultural growth is often particularly effective in reducing hunger and malnutrition in poor countries, since most of the poor and hungry live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for a significant part of their livelihoods.
However, growth will not necessarily result in better nutrition for all. Policies and programmes that will ensure “nutrition-sensitive” growth include supporting increased dietary diversity, improving access to safe drinking water, sanitation and health services and educating consumers regarding adequate nutrition and child care practices.
The report also warns that growth is not always sufficient or rapid enough and that social protection systems are needed to ensure that the most vulnerable can also participate in, contribute to and benefit from growth. Furthermore, social protection can improve nutrition for young children – an investment that will pay off in the future with better educated, stronger and healthier adults.