SEATTLE — How to tackle poverty? A UN report just revealed that seventy-two countries have successfully cut the proportion of chronically undernourished in half. This major achievement signifies the near-completion of one of the Millennium Development Goals. With such a feat finally tackled, the larger goal of world hunger eradication seems much more achievable.
People are considered undernourished if they are unable to consume enough food required for a healthy lifestyle. The proportion of undernourished people was 23.3% just 25 years ago. A recent report published by the FAO, IFAD, and WFP shows that the percentage has been reduced to 12.9% since then.
Although approximately 800 million people are still suffering from hunger, this new finding offers hope for the future. In fact, where hunger still remains, it has been significantly reduced. In parts of Asia, Africa, Latin America, and the Caribbean, there have recently been sizable reductions in hunger.
Learning from the aforementioned cases, it is fair to note that we are finally able to identify the key building blocks of hunger eradication. Through developmental achievements in areas like economic growth, agricultural investments and social protection, and political stability, eliminating hunger becomes much more feasible.
In fact, General José Fraziano de Silva, FAO Director, aims to motivate us all to become the “Zero Hunger generation”. According to him, the results of the recent UN hunger report for 2015 signify our ability to completely eliminate hunger over the course of our lifetime.
The UN report also showed that further progress in reaching the 2015 food security targets was complicated by factors such as challenging global economic conditions, extreme weather, political instability. and civil issues. In this way, the report has helped to educate the general public on the most pertinent issues.
Specifically, improved agricultural productivity, especially by small and family farmers, brings substantial drops in both hunger and poverty rates. Although economic growth is always an underlying goal, it is inclusive economic growth in particular that brings the greatest benefits to the hunger reduction effort.
Lastly, the expansion of social protection is a hugely influential factor in eradicating hunger. Cash transfers, food vouchers, health insurance and meal programs all have strong correlations to hunger reduction. With the improvements in nutrition that these developmental mechanisms bring, comes improved productivity as well.
In 29 countries, including China, Brazil, Vietnam and Thailand, hunger rates have dropped significantly in recent years. In the fight against global hunger, certain external factors have inevitably affected the overall progress in worldwide hunger rates.
In Africa, 24 countries are currently facing food crises—a number that has doubled since 1990, according to the FAO. In eastern and central Africa, more than 30 percent of the population is still classified as undernourished.
Goals focused in the right areas could bring monumental successes to the fight against global hunger. In the even larger international fight against poverty worldwide, great successes will soon be realized, after goals have been allotted to the right areas. We will continue to learn as we go, and with time, we will see results.
– Sarah Bernard