Twenty-five years ago, there were more than a billion hungry people in the world. Despite ongoing poverty, political upheavals, and natural disasters, the number of hungry people has dropped by about 20%. There are about 795 million people who are hungry in the world. During this same time, the world population grew by 1.8 million, making the drop even more striking.
This good news comes from three agencies of the United Nations: the Food and Agricultural Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, and the World Food Programme.
However, this still means that one person in every nine people on Earth is going hungry.
The prevalence of hunger and insufficient food has declined from 23.3% to 12.9% in developing regions of the world, according to the report, which can be read at http://www.fao.org/hunger/en/. Improvements were greatest in East Asia and Latin America and the Caribbean.
Seventy-two countries out of 129 have met the Millennium Development Goal of reducing their prevalence of hunger by half. The goals were set in 2000 with a target date of this year.
Twenty-nine countries have halved the absolute number of undernourished people and not just the prevalence of hunger, a goal set at the World Food Summit in 1996. If a country's population grows, the prevalence of hunger might drop but the absolute number of hungry people might still be the same or be growing.
"The near-achievement of the [Millennium Development Goal] hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime. We must be the Zero Hunger generation. That goal should be mainstreamed into all policy interventions and at the heart of the new sustainable development agenda to be established this year," Food and Agricultural Organization director General José Graziano da Silva said in a statement.
In recent years, progress toward eliminating hunger has been hampered by extreme weather and political instability in many parts of the world. Twenty-four countries in African currently face food crises, which is double the number in 1990. Hunger rates in countries that are suffering from prolonged crises are more than three times higher than elsewhere.