2014-09-15 | News
Caucasus and Central Asia beating back hunger

About 805 million people in the world – or one in nine –  now suffer from hunger, according to a new UN report released today, confirming a trend that has seen the number of hungry people decline globally by more than 100 million over the past decade, and by more than 200 million since 1990-92.

According to the report, the 10 countries that have achieved greatest success in reducing the total number of hungry people in proportion to their national population are:  Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cuba, Georgia, Ghana, Kuwait, Saint Vincent and Grenadines, Thailand and Venezuela.

The State of Food Insecurity in the World is published annually by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).

The overall trend in hunger reduction in developing countries means that the Millennium Development Goal of reducing by half the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 is within reach, “if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up,” the report said. To date, 63 developing countries have reached the Millennium goal target, and six more are on track to reach it by 2015.

“This is proof that we can win the war against hunger and should inspire countries to move forward, with the assistance of the international community as needed,” the heads of FAO, IFAD and WFP, José Graziano da Silva, Kanayo F. Nwanze and Ertharin Cousin, wrote in their foreword to the report.

The report notes that access to food has improved rapidly and significantly in countries that have experienced overall economic progress, notably in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia. Access to food has also improved in Southern Asia and Latin America, but mainly in countries with adequate safety nets and other forms of social protection including for the rural poor.

Hunger reduction has accelerated, but some lag behind

Despite significant progress overall, several regions and sub-regions continue to lag behind. In Sub-Saharan Africa, more than one in four people remain chronically undernourished, while Asia, the world’s most populous region, is also home to the majority of the hungry – 526 million people.

Latin America and the Caribbean have made the greatest overall strides in increasing food security. Meanwhile Oceania has accomplished only a modest improvement (1.7 percent decline) in the prevalence of undernourishment, which stood at 14.0 percent in 2012-14, and has actually seen the number of its hungry increase since 1990-92.

Turkey and Kazakhstan are among the 63 countries that have met the Millennium goal target of reducing the proportion of hungry people by half by 2015.

A total of 25 countries have also achieved the more ambitious World Food Summit target of reducing by half the actual number of undernourished people in the same period. These include Armenia, Azerbaijan, Brazil, Cameroon, Chile, Cuba, Djibouti, Georgia, Ghana, Guyana, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Mali, Myanmar, Nicaragua, Peru, Republic of Korea, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Samoa, Sao Tome and Principe, Thailand, Turkmenistan, Uruguay, Venezuela and Viet Nam.

“We are pleased with the progress achieved by our Member Countries in the Caucasus and Central Asia,” said Vladimir Rakhmanin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Europe and Central Asia.

“This demonstrates that substantial and sustainable hunger reduction is possible with the requisite political commitment, informed by sound understanding of national challenges, relevant policy options, broad participation and lessons from other experiences,” he said. “Even in some of countries of our region where under-nutrition and malnutrition continue to be a concern, the latest figures show significant improvement over the past several reporting periods.”

Creating an ‘enabling environment’

The FAO, IFAD and WFP report specifies that hunger eradication requires establishing an enabling environmentand an integrated approach. Such an approach includes public and private investments to increase agricultural productivity; access to land, services, technologies and markets; and measures to promote rural development and social protection for the most vulnerable, including strengthening their resilience to conflicts and natural disasters. The report also emphasizes the importance of specific nutrition programmes, particularly to address micronutrient deficiencies of mothers and children under five.

Case studies

Budapest - This year’s report includes seven case studies – from Bolivia, Brazil, Haiti, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi and Yemen – that highlight some of the ways countries tackle hunger and how external events can influence their capacity to deliver on food security and nutrition objectives. The countries were chosen for their political, economic and cultural diversity.

Bolivia, for example, has created institutions to involve a range of stakeholders, particularly previously marginalized indigenous people.

Brazil’s Zero Hunger programme, which placed achievement of food security at the centre of the government’s agenda, is at the heart of progress that led the country to achieve both the MDG and WFS targets. Current programmes to eradicate extreme poverty in the country build on the approach of linking policies for family farming with social protection.

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

Indonesia has adopted legal frameworks and established institutions to improve food security and nutrition. Its policy coordination mechanism involves ministries, NGOs and community leaders. Measures address a wide range of challenges from agricultural productivity growth to nutritious and safe diets.

Madagascar is emerging from a political crisis and is resuming relationships with international development partners aimed at tackling poverty and malnutrition. It is also working in partnership to build resilience to shocks and climate hazards, including cyclones, droughts and locust invasions, which often afflict the island nation.

Malawi has reached the MDG hunger target, thanks to a strong and persistent commitment to boost maize production. However, malnutrition remains a challenge – 50 percent of children under five are stunted and 12.8 percent are underweight. To address the issue, the government is promoting community-based nutrition interventions to diversify production to include legumes, milk, fisheries and aquaculture, for healthier diets, and to improve incomes at the household level.

Conflict, economic downturn, low agricultural productivity and poverty have made Yemen one of the most food-insecure countries in the world. Besides restoring political security and economic stability, the government aims to reduce hunger by one-third by 2015 and to make 90 percent of the population food-secure by 2020. It also aims to reduce the current critical rates of child malnutrition by at least one percentage point per year.

The findings and recommendations of the 2014 edition of the State of Food Insecurity in the World will be discussed by governments, civil society, and private sector representatives at the 13-18 October meeting of the Committee on World Food Security, at FAO headquarters in Rome.

The report will also be a focus of the Second International Conference on Nutrition (ICN2) in Rome from 19-21 November, which FAO is jointly organizing with the World Health Organization. This high-level inter-governmental meeting seeks renewed political commitment, at global level, to combat malnutrition with the overall goal of improving diets and raising nutrition levels.




§  Webcast for the Press Conference:  

§  Report:

§  Report “in brief”:

§  Video:

§  Audio:  with George Rapsomanikis, FAO Senior Economist  and technical writer of the report  


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