World hunger falls by over 100 million in last decade

by Max Sosland
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ROME — According to a recently released report from the United Nations, about 805 million people suffer from hunger. The “State of Food Insecurity” report notes the decline of hunger in the past two decades, falling by more than 100 million in the last decade and 200 million since 1990-92. The report is published annually by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme of the United Nations.

In order to reduce the number of those suffering from malnutrition, the UN set a Millennium Development Goal to halve the proportion of malnourished people by 2015. To date, 63 countries have achieved the MDG, while six more are on track to do so, according to the report.

“This is proof that we can win the war against hunger and should inspire countries to move forward, with the assistance of the international community as needed,” said José Graziano da Silva, Kanayo F. Nwanze and Ertharin Cousin, heads, respectively, of the FAO, IFAD and WFP in the foreword to the report.

Despite the great progress in feeding the world, many areas still suffer from high numbers of hungry people. More than one in four people in Sub-Saharan Africa are still malnourished. Asia is home to 526 million hungry people. While Latin America and the Caribbean have continued to improve food security, Oceania saw only a slight decrease (1.7 percent) since 2012-14, and has seen an increase in the number of undernourished people since 1990-92.

The SOFI noted that 25 countries have achieved the World Food Summit goal of halving the number of undernourished people by 2015, but acknowledged that the goal is unattainable.

SOFI 2014 also acknowledged that “food insecurity and malnutrition are complex problems that cannot be solved by one sector or stakeholder alone, but need to be tackled in a coordinated way, with the necessary political commitment and integrated leadership.”

Many steps have been taken to lessen the number of those suffering from malnutrition across all sectors. One of the strategies is the fortification of food with nutrients. This process has been acknowledged as “a supportive link to sustainable long-term dietary change in populations” by Kraisid Tontisirin, Guy Nantel and Lalita Bhattacharjee in their article “Food-based strategies to meet the challenges of micronutrient malnutrition in the developing world.”

The Food Fortification Initiative is an international advocacy initiative that advocates for the implementation of food fortification legislation. An executive management team, representing global leaders from private, public and civic sectors, coordinates the direction of FFI Cargill, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Interflour Group PTE, Ltd. are among the groups represented in the executive team.

So far 81 countries have legislation to mandate fortification of at least one industrially milled cereal grain. Almost all of Latin America and the Caribbean have this legislation, while a majority of African and Asian nations have none. As the SOFI reported that Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia have incredibly high rates of malnourishment, and pale in comparison to Latin America and the Caribbean, it further emphasizes the possible association between decreasing malnutrition and food fortification.
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