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The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015

Key messages

  • About 793 million people are undernourished globally, down 167 million over the last decade, and 216 million less than in 1990–92. The decline is more pronounced in developing regions, despite significant population growth. In recent years, progress has been hindered by slower and less inclusive economic growth as well as political instability in some developing regions, such as Central Africa and western Asia.
  • The year 2015 marks the end of the monitoring period for the Millennium Development Goal targets. For the developing regions as a whole, the share of undernourished people in the total population has decreased from 23.3 percent in 1990–92 to 12.9 per cent. Some regions, such as Latin America, the east and south-eastern regions of Asia, the Caucasus and Central Asia, and the northern and western regions of Africa have made fast progress. Progress was also recorded in southern Asia, Oceania, the Caribbean and southern and eastern Africa, but at too slow a pace to reach the MDG 1c target of halving the proportion of the chronically undernourished.
  • A total of 72 developing countries out of 129, or more than half the countries monitored, have reached the MDG 1c hunger target. Most enjoyed stable political conditions and economic growth, often accompanied by social protection policies targeted at vulnerable population groups.
  • For the developing regions as a whole, the two indicators of MDG 1c – the prevalence of undernourishment and the proportion of underweight children under 5 years of age – have both declined. In some regions, including western Africa, south-eastern Asia and South America, undernourishment declined faster than the rate for child underweight, suggesting room for improving the quality of diets, hygiene conditions and access to clean water, particularly for poorer population groups.
  • Economic growth is a key success factor for reducing undernourishment, but it has to be inclusive and provide opportunities for improving the livelihoods of the poor. Enhancing the productivity and incomes of smallholder family farmers is key to progress.
  • Social protection systems have been critical in fostering progress towards the MDG 1 hunger and poverty targets in a number of developing countries. Social protection directly contributes to the reduction of poverty, hunger and malnutrition by promoting income security and access to better nutrition, health care and education. By improving human capacities and mitigating the impacts of shocks, social protection fosters the ability of the poor to participate in growth through better access to employment.
  • In many countries that have failed to reach the international hunger targets, natural and human-induced disasters or political instability have resulted in protracted crises with increased vulnerability and food insecurity of large parts of the population. In such contexts, measures to protect vulnerable population groups and improve livelihoods have been difficult to implement or ineffective. 

The trajectory of undernourishment in developing regions: actual and projected progress towards the MDG and WFS targets

The trajectory of undernourishment in developing regions: actual and projected progress towards the MDG and WFS targets

Note: Data for 2014–16 refer to provisional estimates
Source: FAO

The changing distribution of hunger in the world: numbers and shares of undernourished people by region, 1990–92 and 2014–16

The changing distribution of hunger in the world: numbers and shares of undernourished people by region, 1990–92 and 2014–16

Notes: The areas of the pie charts are proportional to the total number of undernourished in each period. Data for 2014–16 refer to provisional estimates. All figures are rounded

*Includes data for Sudan, which are not included in the figure for sub-Saharan Africa, following the partition of the country when South Sudan became an independent state in 2011

Source: FAO

Undernourishment trends: progress made in almost all regions, but at very different rates

Undernourishment trends: progress made in almost all regions, but at very different rates

Note: Data for 2014–16 refer to provisional estimates
Source: FAO