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Despite increases in food supply, hunger persists: opportunities for country-specific approaches to free people from hunger

Infographic | 06-07-2017

The question of how to sustainably feed the growing global population features high on international policy agendas. Hunger and malnutrition are persistent problems despite the fact that global food production levels are sufficient to feed the world population. 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, and hunger is defined by the FAO as being chronically undernourished. Although the Millennium Development Goal to halve the number of people suffering from hunger was reached for the developing world, 795 million people were still undernourished in 2015, of which 28% live in Sub-Saharan Africa.

However, there are glimmers of hope. The average food supply per capita in Sub-Saharan Africa increased between 1990 and 2010, even though the same period saw a high population growth. Importantly, Africa-wide average figures do not express the wide diversity of country-specific accounts. The differences between countries are large, ranging from an 8% drop to a 60% growth in food supply. Moreover, differences exist within countries. Even in wealthier countries, undernourishment is still prevalent, as an increase in average food supply does not necessarily mean a decrease in hunger. Additional measures beyond agronomic improvements are paramount when facing the challenge of improving food supply and food accessibility for all people. Local and international policies should take a country’s context into account. The quality of policies and the efficiency of interventions can be improved by understanding the institutional and local context and enhancing the diagnostic capacity of governments to create inclusive policies for national priorities.

Source data

FAO (2017a). FAOSTAT Food Balance Sheets 2016, Production Database, Land Database. http://faostat.fao.org/, accessed 28 February 2017.

FAO (2017b). The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015. http://www.fao.org/hunger/en/, accessed 28 February 2017.

Huisman L, Vink M and Van Eerdt M. (2016). African Food Supply in Perspective. PBL Netherlands Environmental Assessment Agency, The Hague.

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