In the developing world, 790 million people do not have enough to eat, according to the most recent estimates (1995/97). That represents a decline of 40 million compared to 1990/92. At the World Food Summit in 1996, world leaders pledged to reduce the number of hungry people to around 400 million by 2015. At the current rate of progress, a reduction of 8 million undernourished people a year, there is no hope of meeting that goal.
According to The State of Food Insecurity in the World 1999, the current reduction does not indicate uniform progress throughout the world. Indeed the data reveal that, in the first half of this decade, just 37 countries achieved a reduction in the number of undernourished, totalling 100 million people. Across the rest of the developing world, the number of hungry people actually increased by almost 60 million.
The State of Food Insecurity in the World also points out that hunger is not limited to the developing nations. The report presents the first assessment of the number of undernourished people in the developed world, finding 8 million in the industrialized countries and 26 million in the countries in transition.
There is no single prescription for action to combat hunger. The goal agreed to at the 1999 World Food Summit - a reduction by half in the number of hungry people by the year 2015 - must be translated into concrete objectives at local, national and regional levels. This will enable people and their leaders to take action that will guarantee the birthright of everyone on this planet - enough to eat.