Good News and Bad News on Global Hunger

The UN Food and Agriculture Organization released its annual review of global hunger today.  The “State of Food Insecurity in the World” report offers some good news and bad news about, well, the state of food security in the world.

The good news: The number of hungry people around the world is on the decline.  The number of people who will suffer chronic hunger this year is 925 million, which is 98 million down from 1.023 billion in 2009, says the report.   The lower global hunger number is attributed to economic growth in developing countries–mainly India and China– and the drop in food prices since mid-2008.

The Bad news: 925 million people is still an unacceptably high number.  MDG 1 sets out to halve the proportion of hungry people in developing countries from 20% to 10% of the developing world’s population by 2015.  The new figures put that proportion at 16%.  In other words, with only five years left, we are not even halfway to the goal.

The report also finds that two thirds of the world’s undernourished live in just seven countries — Bangladesh, China, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, India, Indonesia and Pakistan, and that the proportion of undernourished people is  in sub-Saharan Africa at 30 percent in 2010, or 239 million.  Still, the report shows that many countries are on track to meet the goal, including Brazil and Malawi.

From the report:

What is so striking about these figures is how closely they are for a proxy on the state of the global economy more generally.  When the world was richer back in the mid 1990s, hunger fell.  Then, as you can see, the shock of the collapse of the global financial markets in 2008 caused a spike in global hunger.  Now, we are slowly on the path to recovery, and hunger is increasing accordingly.