FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS on the MDG and WFS hunger targets

International targets in the fight against hunger

1. Which countries are being recognized? 

• 38 Countries from all regions in the world that have made outstanding progress in the fight against hunger. These are:

• 11 from Africa: Algeria, Angola, Benin, Cameroon, Djibouti, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Nigeria, Sao Tome and Principe, and Togo;

• 12 from Latin America and the Caribbean: Brazil, Chile, Cuba, Dominican Republic, Guyana, Honduras, Nicaragua, Panama, Peru, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Venezuela, and Uruguay;

• 10 from Asia and the Pacific: Bangladesh, Cambodia, Fiji, Indonesia, Kyrgyzstan, Maldives, Samoa, Thailand, Turkmenistan, and Viet Nam

• 3 from Europe: Armenia, Azerbaijan and Georgia;

• 2 from the Near East: Kuwait and Jordan.

2. Why are only these countries being recognized?

These countries are being recognized because, according to FAO estimates, they have been able to significantly reduce undernourishment in their populations, thus achieving the hunger targets agreed upon either at the 1996 World Food Summit or in the Millennium Declaration in 2000.

By the end of 2012, and three years in advance, 38 countries achieved  the hunger target set by the Millennium Development Goal One  –  to reduce by 2015 at least by half the proportion of people in the country suffering from undernourishment. Of these, 18 countries achieved by year-end 2012, three years in advance, the target set by the 1996 World Food Summit – to reduce by 2015 at least by half the number of people in the country suffering from undernourishment.

These achievements demonstrate that political will and commitment by Governments and people throughout the world make it possible to defeat hunger and malnutrition. Our improved understanding of the determinants of hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition makes us confident that it is possible to improve food security and nutrition in a sustainable manner, provided proper actions are taken immediately.

On what evidence do you base the award?

The award is based on statistics produced by FAO using data provided by member countries and other international agencies. FAO computes the share of undernourished people in the population by estimating the share of those who cannot regularly achieve sufficient caloric consumption levels to meet the requirements for a healthy and active life.

This is done by analysing data on food availability in countries and evidence on distribution of food access across the population, as gauged by household surveys.

Does this mean there is no longer food insecurity in these countries?

No, for several reasons. First, targets set in 1996 and in 2000 aim to halve the number or share of people suffering from hunger. Even if the share or number is reduced by half, there will still be a significant number of people suffering from hunger. Thus, even countries receiving the diploma should focus on the total eradication of hunger. This is likely to be an even more demanding challenge.

Second, it is now widely recognized that food security is not just about accessing sufficient calories. Other dimensions of food security  including food quality, as well as the economic and social costs incurred to procure needed food, must be duly accounted for.For these reasons, and to help the international community to track progress towards the more ambitious and comprehensive goal of totally eradicating food insecurity and malnutrition, FAO is broadening the set of data and indicators employed to monitor food insecurity.

This is done through publication of a suite of indicators covering various dimensions of food security -- availability, access, utilization and stability -- and by an ambitious program to promote new metrics for measuring the severity of food insecurity based on peoples’ experiences, through the “Voices of the Hungry” project, which will generate annual indicators for more than 150 countries in the world.

5. What about other countries? What is the situation in countries not being recognized?

There are several countries that have not reached the MDG or WFS targets today, but which are still on track to do so by 2015. These countries are encouraged to step up their willingness and commitment to reinvigorate the fight against hunger. We hope that success stories celebrated at this FAO Conference will provide guidance and stimulus to all countries.

The event demonstrates the importance of data to monitor development processes. We would like to encourage countries and the entire international community to continue to devote the highest attention to improving the collection and analysis of data on agriculture, food and nutrition. Good information is a key requirement for policies.

6. How do these achievements relate to the Zero Hunger Challenge?

The Zero Hunger challenge implies:

1. 100% access to adequate food all year round
2. Zero stunted children less than 2 years
3. All food systems are sustainable
4. 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
5. Zero loss or waste of food

These five points require continued investment in improving agricultural productivity, especially where productivity is below its potential, as well as the adoption of resource-saving technologies. Limited resources and fragile environments need to be protected, while more sustainable consumption life styles need to be promoted among the wealthier.

Photo: ©FAO/Seyllou Diallo
Agriculture plays a pivotal role in providing access to food.