The number of people worldwide who don’t get enough to eat has fallen to 795 million, 10 million less than last year. But now is not the time to celebrate. Nearly 1 billion people are still starving, still suffering and about three-quarters of those who don’t have enough food are small farmers. Social investments, including cash transfer programs for the poor and free school meals, have helped reduce starvation in South America to close to zero. East Asia and Southeast Asia have also shown major progress, while South Asia is lagging. Internationally, 167 million fewer people face hunger today compared to a decade ago.
Despite a growing population, the percentage of the world’s people who don’t have enough to eat has dropped to 13 percent compared to 23 percent in 1990. Economic growth alone does not solve the problem of hunger. We need specific policies to address the situation.
Free school meal programs, direct cash transfers and investments in rural infrastructure such as roads, food storage facilities as well as training for farmers have also helped reduce hunger. These policies, along with economic growth, have helped reduce the number of hungry people worldwide by 216 million since 1990. Some 20 percent of the world’s hungry people live in countries facing crises, including conflicts, natural disasters and chronic political instability. In sub-Saharan Africa, the number of starving people has actually been rising, bucking the global trend.
The world came close to meeting the Millennium Development Goal of reducing the number of starving people by half compared to 1990. Another round of U.N. Sustainable Development Goals, including revised hunger targets, will be decided in September in New York.