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 2020


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 number of undernourished people in the world continued to rise in 2020. Between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020.

The number of people in the world affected by hunger continued to increase in 2020 under the shadow of the COVID-19 pandemic. After remaining virtually unchanged from 2014 to 2019, the prevalence of undernourishment (PoU) increased from 8.4 percent to around 9.9 percent between 2019 and 2020, heightening the challenge of achieving the Zero Hunger target in 2030. The 2020 estimate ranges from 9.2 to 10.4 percent, depending on the assumptions made to reflect the uncertainties around the assessment.

In terms of population, it is estimated that between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020. Considering the middle of the projected range (768 million), 118 million more people were facing hunger in 2020 than in 2019, with estimates ranging from 70 to 161 million.

The numbers show enduring and troubling regional inequalities. About one in five people (21 percent of the population) was facing hunger in Africa in 2020 – more than double the proportion of any other region. This represents an increase of 3 percentage points in one year. This is followed by Latin America and the Caribbean (9.1 percent) and Asia (9.0 percent), with increases of 2.0 and 1.1 percentage points, respectively, between 2019 and 2020.

Of the total number of undernourished people in 2020 (768 million), more than half (418 million) live in Asia and more than one-third (282 million) in Africa, while Latin America and the Caribbean accounts for about 8 percent (60 million). Compared with 2019, 46 million more people in Africa, almost 57 million more in Asia, and about 14 million more in Latin America and the Caribbean were affected by hunger in 2020.

For more detailed information, see the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) 2021 report.



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