The sharp spike in hunger triggered by the global economic crisis has hit the poorest people in developing countries hardest, revealing a fragile world food system in urgent need of reform, according to a report released by FAO and the World Food Programme (WFP).
The combination of food and economic crises has pushed the number of hungry people worldwide to historic levels - more than one billion people are undernourished, according to FAO estimates.
Nearly all the world's undernourished live in developing countries. In Asia and the Pacific, an estimated 642 million people are suffering from chronic hunger; in Sub-Saharan Africa 265 million; in Latin America and the Caribbean 53 million; in the Near East and North Africa 42 million; and in developed countries 15 million, according to FAO's annual hunger report, The State of Food Insecurity, produced this year in collaboration with WFP. The report was published before World Food Day, to be celebrated on 16 October 2009.
Even before the recent crises, the number of undernourished people in the world had been increasing slowly but steadily for the past decade, the report says.
Good progress had been made in the 1980s and early 1990s in reducing chronic hunger, largely due to increased investment in agriculture following the global food crisis of the early 1970s.
But between 1995-97 and 2004-06, as official development assistance (ODA) devoted to agriculture declined substantially, the number of hungry people increased in all regions except Latin America and the Caribbean. Gains in hunger reduction were later reversed in this region as well, as a result of the food and economic crises.
The rise in the number of hungry people during both periods of low prices and economic prosperity and the very sharp rises in periods of price spikes and economic downturns show the weakness of the global food security governance system, FAO said.
Read the report at: http://www.fao.org/docrep/012/i0876e/i0876e00.htm