FAO Regional Office for Latin America and the Caribbean

Latin America and the Caribbean achieves Millennium Development Goals hunger target

Proportion of people suffering from malnutrition in the region fell from 15.3% in 1990-1992 to 6.1% in 2012/2014.

Latin America and the Caribbean is the region that has shown the greatest progress in hunger reduction, with the prevalence of hunger reduced by almost two-thirds since the early 1990s

Santiago, Chile, September 17, 2014 - Latin America and the Caribbean has taken a huge step towards eradicating hunger by reaching the hunger target of the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG), a year before the deadline set by the international community, the FAO, WFP and IFAD announced today.

According to the report The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2014 (SOFI), the proportion of people suffering from hunger in the region fell from 15.3% in 1990-1992 to 6.1% in 2012-2014.

The total number of people living with hunger in the region has also declined, from 68.5 million in 1990-92 to 37 million in 2012/14, which means that in just over two decades, 31.5 million men, women and children overcame undernourishment, which also means that the goal of the World Food Summit (WFS) -which seeks to halve the number of people suffering from hunger- is also in reach.

The report was jointly published by FAO, IFAD and WFP, whose heads, José Graziano da Silva, Kanayo F. Nwanze and Ertharin Cousin specially highlighted the achievements of the region in the foreword of the document: “Latin America and the Caribbean is the region that has shown the greatest progress in hunger reduction, with the prevalence of hunger reduced by almost two-thirds since the early 1990s. As a whole, it has already reached the MDG hunger target and is very close to meeting the WFS target.”

Fruit of political commitment

The heads of the Rome based agencies indicated that: “Government-led efforts combining support for production with social protection have been supported by much wider commitment: societies have decided to end hunger; parliaments are taking responsibility, and national efforts have been pushed forward by the strong commitment of the region as a whole that became the first region to commit to the goal of zero hunger by adopting the Hunger-Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative 2025 nearly ten years ago – a commitment reaffirmed by the region’s leaders at recent Summits of the Community of Latin America and the Caribbean States (CELAC)."

This great political commitment is what differentiates the situation in Latin America and the Caribbean and can be seen at all levels: food security is a priority in the work plans of the main regional political, economic and social integration bodies, such as CELAC, MERCOSUR, Petrocaribe-ALBA, CARICOM, CAN, SELA, SICA and the Latin American Parliament.

The same enthusiasm can be seen at country- level, where governments are facing both the root causes of hunger and the most urgent situations through policies, programs and legislation on food security, social protection and productive development, with a special emphasis on measures that aim to address the main cause of hunger in the region: the lack of access to food by the poor.

To respond to this, 21 countries in the region are implementing conditioned cash transfer programs, which support more than 120 million vulnerable people, and many governments are creating virtuous circles by supplying their school feeding programs with products from family farmers, strengthening child nutrition, rural development and small farmer’s development.

Latin America and the Caribbean leads global hunger reduction

Latin America and the Caribbean is the region with the largest number of countries that have already achieved the Millennium Development Goal on hunger. In total fourteen countries have achieved this goal and the SOFI reports says that another three countries are set to achieve it before 2015.

"These great achievements give reason for optimism, but it is important to note that there are still significant differences between the progress of countries and also within countries, as there are geographic zones -such as the rural areas- and social sectors –such as women and indigenous peoples- that still face high rates of food insecurity and poverty, and should be a priority for government intervention,” said FAO’s Regional Representative, Raúl Benítez.

Case Studies: Brazil, Bolivia, Haiti

The SOFI report includes seven case studies that highlight national efforts to combat hunger, three of which are Latin America and the Caribbean countries.

The Plurinational State of Bolivia has established processes and institutions that include a variety of actors and stakeholders, including indigenous peoples, marginalized in former years. The strong focus on pro-poor food security policies has generated a rapid decrease of hunger, which fell 7.4% between 2009-11 and 2012-14. Chronic malnutrition in children under three years of age also decreased from 41.7% in 1989 to 18.5% in 2012.

Brazil's Zero Hunger strategy placed the achievement of food security at the heart of the government's agenda, and is at the core of the progress that led the country to achieve both the MDG and WFS goals. Current programs that seek to eradicate extreme poverty in the country are based on the successful approach linking policies for family farming to social protection in a highly inclusive manner.

Haiti, where more than half of the population is chronically undernourished, is still struggling to recover from the effects of the devastating 2010 earthquake. The SOFI report stresses that the country has adopted a national program to strengthen livelihoods and improve agricultural productivity supporting access of family farmers to inputs and services.

"This year we celebrate the regions achievements. The challenge ahead is to consolidate this success, increase efforts in countries that are lagging behind through regional cooperation, and to learn from the experiences that have given the best results to build the road that will lead us to be the last generation to have to live with hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean, "said FAO’s Regional Representative.