Prevalence of food insecurity in Asia and the Pacific by subregion
The worsening food security situation in the region is reflected not only in the prevalence of undernourishment data, but also in the prevalence of the moderate or severe food security figures presented in Figure 5.
The Food Insecurity Experience Scale- (FIES) based prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity is an estimate of the proportion of the population facing moderate or severe constraints on their ability to obtain sufficient food over the course of a year. People face moderate food insecurity when they are uncertain of their ability to obtain food and have been forced to reduce, at times over the year, the quality and/or quantity of food they consume due to lack of money or other resources. Severe food insecurity means that individuals have likely run out of food, experienced hunger and, at the most extreme, have gone for days without eating, putting their health and well-being at serious risk.
The prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in Asia and the Pacific was 25.7 percent in 2020, up from 18.7 percent in 2014. Much of the increase came in 2020 when COVID-19 and its economic repercussions contributed to an increase of 3.3 percentage points. The increase was particularly large in Southern Asia, where the prevalence increased from 37.6 percent in 2019 to 43.8 percent in 2020.
The current figure for the Asia-Pacific region is lower than the global average of 30.4 percent. Across the four subregions, Southern Asia had the highest prevalence (43.8 percent) in 2020, compared to 18.8 percent in South-eastern Asia, 12 percent in Oceania and 7.8 percent in Eastern Asia. Several countries had a prevalence above 30 percent: Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Cambodia, the Islamic Republic of Iran, Kiribati, Nepal and the Philippines.
The prevalence of severe food insecurity in the Asia-Pacific region in 2020 was 10.3 percent, up from 7.7 percent in 2014. The subregional pattern was similar to that for severe or moderate food insecurity. Southern Asia had the highest prevalence (19.9 percent), followed by 3.3 percent in South-eastern Asia, 2.6 percent in Oceania and 2 percent in Eastern Asia.
|Moderate food insecurity||Severe food insecurity||Moderate or severe food insecurity|
|Asia and the Pacific||11.0||13.3||15.4||7.7||9.1||10.3||18.7||22.4||25.7|
|East Asia excluding China||5.2||6.1||5.8||0.8||1.3||2.0||6.0||7.4||7.8|
|South Asia excluding India||27.7||26.6||27.0||12.5||13.6||14.3||40.2||40.2||41.3|
An estimated 1.1 billion people in Asia and the Pacific experienced moderate or severe food insecurity in 2020, an increase of 341.9 million, or 44.4 percent, compared with 2014. Of that large increase, 148.9 million occurred from 2019 to 2020, when COVID-19 led to major socio-economic disruptions that negatively affected food security.
The region accounted for 46.9 percent of the global total of 2.4 billion in 2020 (similar to its share in the number of undernourished). Most of those people reside in Southern Asia, which had 849.8 million moderately or severely food insecure people, compared with 130.8 million in Eastern Asia, 125.5 million in South-eastern Asia and 5.1 million in Oceania.
|Asia and the Pacific||769.3||775.6||935.0||962.5||1111.2|
|East Asia excluding China||9.3||10.6||11.1||10.5||11.3|
|South Asia excluding India||204.7||194.9||205.2||222.0||231.2|
An estimated 443.8 million people in Asia and the Pacific experienced severe food insecurity in 2020, an increase of 127.3 million, or 40.2 percent compared with 2014. Much of the increase came in 2020 in the wake of COVID-19, although the number was increasing even earlier. The region accounted for 47.8 percent of the global total of 927.6 million in 2020. Southern Asia had 386.8 million severely food insecure people, compared with 33.8 million in Eastern Asia, 22.1 million in South-eastern Asia and 1.1 million in Oceania.
|Asia and the Pacific||316.5||285.2||369.4||390.4||443.8|
|East Asia excluding China||1.4||1.3||1.9||1.8||2.0|
|South Asia excluding India||63.6||61.4||66.6||75.0||80.0|