Sustainable Development Goals

Indicator 2.1.1 - Prevalence of undernourishment

The prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) is an estimate of the proportion of the population whose habitual food consumption is insufficient to provide the dietary energy levels that are required to maintain a normal active and healthy life. It is expressed as a percentage. This indicator will measure progress towards SDG Target 2.1.

Target 2.1

By 2030, end hunger and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round.




 Percentage of undernourished people by region in 2000 and 2019


The PoU offers countries a measure to track progress made in stamping out hunger in a way consistent with the past. Together with indicator 2.1.2, this is ideal for evidence-based policymaking to ensure no one and no area is left behind and to bring the global hunger figure down to zero.

Undernourishment means that a person is not able to acquire enough food to meet the daily minimum dietary energy requirements, over a period of one year. FAO defines hunger as being synonymous with chronic undernourishment.

Key results

The 2030 zero hunger target will not be achieved unless the recent trend is reversed.

The number of people affected by hunger globally has been slowly on the rise since 2014. Current estimates are that nearly 690 million people are hungry, or 8.9 percent of the world population – up by 10 million people in one year and by nearly 60 million in five years.

From a regional perspective, the PoU in sub-Saharan Africa was estimated to be 22.0 percent of the population in 2019, corresponding to nearly 235 million undernourished people, up from 21.2 percent in 2015. This is more than double Western Asia and Northern Africa (9.0 percent, which approximates the world average) and is the highest among all regions. However, Western Asia and Northern Africa has seen a significant deterioration since 2015, with the prevalence of undernourishment rising from 8.6 percent to 9 percent.

More that 37 percent of undernourished people in the world live in Central Asia and Southern Asia – an estimated 259 million people in 2019. Yet, the PoU for the region is 13 percent, below that of sub-Saharan Africa. The region has shown progress in reducing the number of hungry people in recent years, down by 5.8 million since 2015.

In Latin America and the Caribbean, the PoU was 7.4 percent in 2019, below the world prevalence of 8.9 percent, which still translates into almost 48 million undernourished people. The region has seen a rise in hunger in the past few years, with the number of undernourished people increasing by 9 million between 2015 and 2019. 

For more detailed information, see the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2020 report.


SDG 2 – Indicators of hunger and severity of food insecurity

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