A "FINAL PUSH" could enable the international community to meet
the first Millennium Development Goal (MDG) - to halve, between
1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger - a
new report suggests.
The State of Food Insecurity in the World, published
every year by the UN's Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO),
reports that about one in eight people in the world were estimated
to be suffering from chronic hunger in 2011-13, a 17- per-cent
reduction since 1990-92.
The authors write: "If the average annual decline of the past 21
years continues to 2015, the prevalence of undernourishment will
reach a level close to the target. Meeting it would require
considerable and immediate additional efforts."
The report notes that progress has not been universal.
"Significant" progress has been achieved in Eastern and South
Eastern Asia and Latin America, but one quarter of people in
Sub-Saharan Africa are undernourished (down from 32.7 per cent in
1990). Last week, the government of Malawi and the UN launched a
relief operation to help nearly 1.5 million in need of food aid in
the country. Prolonged dry spells and decreased production have led
to maize prices that are double those of last year.
Reasons for regional variation, say the authors, are food price
inflation, political instability, lack of natural resources,
economic growth, and public policy. Economic growth is not reaching
its potential in rural Africa, it warns, because of "woefully
The authors highlight the importance of smallholder farmers,
suggesting that targeting them can achieve hunger reduction "even
where poverty is widespread". This has been demonstrated in
Nicaragua, one of six countries studied in detail in the
Smallholders have been badly affected by sudden climate-change,
they warn, which "may play an even more prominent role in the
coming decades". The volatility of food prices also makes these
farmers "risk-averse, [it] lowers their propensity to adopt and
invest in new technologies and ultimately results in lower overall
Globalisation is discussed. Remittances sent by migrants to
their home countries now account for three times the amount of
official development assistance, and has had "significant impacts
on poverty and food security", the authors write.
The report suggests that the MDG target to halve the proportion
of people living in extreme poverty was reached in 2008, and that
the goal to halve the proportion without sustainable access to safe
drinking water and basic sanitation was reached in 2010.
UN warns on Mali: Three out of four households
in Mali do not have enough to eat and are "heavily dependent on
food assistance", the UN has warned. Last Friday, the World Food
Programme announced that it was expanding its operation in the
country, to reach more than 680,000 people in a country still
recovering from civil conflict.