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Towards the World Food Summit target

Undernourishment around the world
Counting and locating hungry people
Progress and setbacks in developing countries

Nutritional status and vulnerability
Well-being of young children
Incidence of malnutrition in vulnerable areas
Vulnerable people Ð who and why
Profiles of vulnerability
Environmental potential and constraints

Dynamics of change
Factors that bring about change
Economic growth spurs improvements in food security status for most Asian nations
Mixed picture of progress and setback characterizes Latin America and the Caribbean
War-ravaged Afghanistan loses ground while Morocco leads good performers
Several West African nations register gains but problems grow worse elsewhere in Africa
Recent shocks: floods, drought, war and financial collapse threaten progress

The way ahead
Meeting the challenge


Published in 1999 by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy

The designations employed and the presentation of material in this publication do not imply the expression of any opinion whatsoever on the part of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations concerning the legal status of any country, territory, city or area or its authorities, or concerning the delimitation of its frontiers or boundaries. The designations ÒdevelopedÓ and ÒdevelopingÓ are intended for statistical convenience and do not necessarily express a judgement about the stage reached by a particular country, territory or area in the development process.

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise, without the prior permission of the copyright owner. Applications for such permission, with a statement of the purpose and extent of the reproduction, should be addressed to the Director, Information Division, Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, Viale delle Terme di Caracalla, 00100 Rome, Italy.

© FAO 1999

ISBN 92-5-104328-0

Printed in the UK

As cover, from left to right: Banson; Paiboon Pattanasitubol/
UNEP/Topham; Peter Beard/The Time is Always Now.


This first edition of The State of Food Insecurity in the World was prepared by FAO to provide information about the number of hungry people in the world, who they are, where they live, why they find themselves in this condition and what can be done to improve their lives. Its aim is to focus attention on both progress and challenges in the ongoing effort to reduce the number of undernourished.

A collaborative effort between the Economic and Social Department (ES) and the Information Division of the General Affairs and Information Department (GI), the publication was prepared by an interdepartmental Task Force comprised of the Global Information and Early Warning Service (ESCG), the Nutrition Planning, Assessment and Evaluation Service (ESNA), the Statistical Analysis Service (ESSA) and the Environment and Natural Resources Service of the Sustainable Development Department (SDRN), with the participation of the FIVIMS secretariat.

Overall leadership was provided by Hartwig de Haen, Assistant Director-General, ES, and technical leadership by Barbara Huddleston, Chief, Food Security and Agricultural Projects Analysis Service (ESAF).

Substantive technical contributions were provided by Ergin Ataman, Geographical Information System Manager and Rene Gommes, Senior Officer, SDRN; Jean-Pierre Cotier, Chief, Barbara Burlingame, Senior Officer and Simon Chevassus, Nutrition Officer, ESNA; Loganaden Naiken, Chief and Jorge Mernies, Senior Officer, ESSA; and David Wilcock, FIVIMS Coordinator.

Conceptual and editorial guidance was provided by Shalini Dewan, Chief of the Publishing and Multimedia Service and Andrew Marx, Chief of the Multimedia Group of the Information Division, GI. Language editing services were provided by the Editorial Group, GI.

Gillian Bunting and Fulvia Petrassi (SDRN), Josilien Edouard and Jenny Riches (ESAF), Cinzia Cerri and Francesco Vizioli de Meo (ESSA) and Rafaella Siano (ESNA) gave invaluable assistance at various stages of the work.

FAO extends special thanks to the team at Banson, London, for design, layout and production.