In a world characterized by complex health and societal challenges, one persistent crisis often eludes the global spotlight: extreme hunger. In a bid to highlight the depth of the international hunger crisis, Delivery Rank has compiled all of the most important facts and statistics on world hunger in 2023.
World hunger has been a significant issue at least since records began. Over the last century, mankind has taken huge strides toward solving the crisis. But more needs to be done. The world produces enough food to feed all 8 billion inhabitants, yet millions of children still go to bed hungry every night.
This article will provide facts and stats on the state of hunger in some of the world’s most economically disadvantaged regions. We’ll cover the primary drivers of world hunger, the devastating impact of hunger on children, and effective strategies to tackle this issue. We'll explore what steps can be taken, both at an individual and systemic level, to counteract this ongoing, paramount humanitarian crisis.
When people talk about ‘hunger,’ they often refer to the feeling of ‘being hungry.’ However, when experts and aid organizations like the WHO talk about hunger, what they mean is a prolonged period in which people experience extreme food insecurity.
Vulnerable populations can go for days without eating due to a lack of money, access to food, or other resources. In this sense, hunger is in part defined by the distress associated with the lack of proper nutrition or access to food.
Hunger is a multifaceted problem that can be discussed both at an individual level and as it applies to larger populations. Each of the elements explained below could be used to describe the topic of hunger on its own, but it is probably best to think of ‘hunger’ as the combination of all of these terms.
Refers to the availability of food to populations or individuals, and how well people can access food that meets their preferences and dietary needs. If someone has adequate food security, they have enough safe and nutritious food to support an active and healthy lifestyle.
Pertains to an individual’s caloric intake. When someone consumes less than the amount of food they need to be healthy, they are considered undernourished.
Does not refer specifically to calories, but instead highlights an individual’s deficiencies in energy, protein, and/or essential vitamins and minerals.
Refers more generally to the issue of an unbalanced diet. Encompassed within malnutrition are undernutrition and overnutrition.
The most severe, and damaging, form of malnutrition. When someone is starving, their caloric intake is less than what is required to sustain life. Starvation over a prolonged time can cause irreparable damage to the individual’s body, potentially resulting in death. This is called inanition.
A severe scarcity of food across entire regions or populations resulting in widespread undernutrition and high mortality rates. It occurs due to significant disruptions in food production, distribution, and access, typically triggered by natural disasters, conflicts, or economic crises.
The term refers to hunger on a global level. Encompassed within world hunger are all of the definitions of hunger and their effects around the world.
World hunger is a term that highlights all those members of the human population who do not eat enough or have enough access to food.
Let's get into some general statistics about hunger. These are important facts that show us the state of the hunger crisis across the globe.
The sheer number of people who suffer from hunger is staggering. According to the latest research by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), 828 million people are hungry in the world.
Famines have been a common occurrence all throughout history – and are still a huge problem. Just in the last couple of centuries, over 100 million people died from famines across the globe.
In 2023, there are several regions that are either already experiencing famine or on the verge of descending into one:
East Africa has been grappling with intermittent food crises since 2011. The region had one of the driest periods in four decades in 2022, which exacerbated the problem. Nearly 20 million people, including children, are facing severe hunger and malnutrition.
Over half of Afghanistan's population, approximately 19.7 million people, face acute hunger due to conflict, drought, and economic downturn, marking one of the world's largest food crises.
Yemen has been confronting a food security crisis since 2016, triggered by civil war. An unprecedented level of hunger prevails in the country, affecting 17 million Yemenis and leading to one of the highest rates of child malnutrition globally.
Syria is facing a huge hunger crisis, with more than half its population (12.1 million) hungry and an additional 2.9 million at risk. Amid exorbitant food prices, ongoing conflict, and natural disasters like the recent Turkey-Syria earthquake, malnutrition rates continue to rise.
With nearly half of its population (4.9 million people) struggling to find nourishment, Haiti's food insecurity rate is among the highest globally. Aggravated by insecurity, violence, and economic difficulties, the number of food-insecure Haitians has tripled since 2016.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine has led to food insecurity in one in three households. The war has severely affected Ukraine's food production, causing supply shortages and increased food prices worldwide.
Southern Madagascar has received minimal rainfall for three years, resulting in what the UN calls the world's first climate-change-induced famine. Nearly 1.5 million people are in dire need of food and nourishment.
Myanmar's hunger situation has worsened due to the compound impact of pre-existing poverty, Covid-19, and ongoing political instability. Millions struggle to find basic services and food.
However, the world’s ability to stop these outbreaks of widespread hunger has significantly improved. With better food aid programs and more organized charitable organizations, we have gotten much better at containing famines and preventing deaths.
Despite an increasingly effective response to famines and widespread hunger, there is still much to do.
World hunger reached a low in about 2010 and remained steady for nearly a decade. Currently, world hunger is on the rise and affecting nearly 10% of people worldwide. From 2019 to 2023, the number of undernourished individuals increased by as many as 150 million people. This crisis is mainly caused by conflicts, climate change, and the Covid-19 pandemic.
While the immediate outlook is grim, aid organizations are responding to these increasing threats to food security. The UN anticipates that world hunger will return to pre-pandemic levels by 2030.
Access to food directly correlates to lack of hunger and sufficient nourishment. As world hunger increases, so does food insecurity.
When fewer people have access to quality food, fewer people can eat food that is nutritious enough to sustain a healthy and active lifestyle.
This trend looks set to continue throughout the next few years.
Several factors are causing an upward trend in starved and food insecure individuals. Conflicts and natural disasters, including those caused or worsened by global warming, are massive contributors.
The Development Assistance Committee (DAC) is a group of 31 countries that have come together to help fight the world hunger crisis. The project is organized and partly funded by the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD).
The DAC works to identify trends in world hunger. It also provides a forum for major aid donors and aims to coordinate a humanitarian response that is as effective as possible.
Global aid has been gradually increasing over the last few decades. In response to the surging number of food insecure and hungry people, DAC nations have significantly stepped up the scale of their aid operation.
Since 2015, the DAC’s spending on food aid has increased from $3.55 billion to $5.11 billion.
Some DAC members have huge spending potential. The United States, Germany, France, Japan, and the United Kingdom are just five affluent economies involved in the program.
Released in 2021, the OECD’s latest analysis of DAC spending shows the US is the biggest spender on food aid, contributing over $3.1 billion.
Germany ($867 million), Canada ($303 million), the UAE ($230 million), and the UK ($188 million) have also donated a significant amount of money to DAC food aid, although these nations are some way off the USA’s current spend.
Amid an increasingly volatile global hunger crisis, what is the ultimate effect on human life?
Here we will break down the biggest factors at play in the world hunger crisis.
Poverty is the number one reason people go hungry. People who live in poverty can face severe food insecurity, and they often lack the technology to store and prepare their food safely.
Those who do not have an adequate income usually live in poor areas where, for example, they may not have proper access to safe drinking water, health services, or quality education – all of which compounds the problem of hunger.
Hunger and poverty go hand in hand, and the effects of each work to create a vicious cycle that traps people in a desperate situation.
People who are born into poverty tend to lack adequate access to food throughout their lives. A baby whose mother was undernourished while pregnant may be born premature or underweight. A lack of nutrition may further affect the child’s development, causing them to be too short (or too light) for their age.
The growing effects of hunger make focusing at school difficult. This will affect a child’s educational performance, as they struggle to focus and complete their work. Hunger can also slow the mental development of a child and reduce their physical and mental capacity in adulthood. Ultimately, lower grades and physical deterioration will hinder a person’s job opportunities down the line. With less chance of earning money, they are more likely to be stuck in poverty and hunger as a result.
Prolonged undernourishment and starvation typically result in a weaker immune system, which means an individual is more likely to become incapacitated by a virus or disease. This would have a direct impact on their income and, consequently, on their access to food.
In summary, as anyone suffering from starvation becomes increasingly hungry, they also grow weaker, more prone to disease and illness, and less productive. This makes it impossible for some adults to earn enough money to feed their families.
So, hunger traps people in poverty, which results in prolonged starvation, which limits economic opportunities, thus creating a negative feedback loop of poverty and hunger.
Smallholder farmers, primarily in developing countries, are among the most impoverished people in their communities and frequently suffer from hunger. Surprisingly, they are also responsible for approximately one-third of the world's food production. Most of the world's farms, about 84%, are smallholdings of less than two hectares (equivalent to a square hectometer, or about 5 acres).
Their struggle is not merely due to limited resources, but also due to the fact that the land they work is often degraded, water is often scarce, and smallholder farmers may lack knowledge of the best farming practices to boost their yields. Additionally, the younger generations tend to move to cities, creating a labor gap – and the equipment needed to replace that manual labor is often unaffordable.
Even when crops are harvested, smallholder farmers are limited in their ability to get them to the market, which means the farmers don’t make money from their crops. And storage facilities are so poor that pests, mold, and rot ruin food before it can be eaten by a small family.
Focusing on enhancing the productivity and income of smallholder farmers is a key step to improving a nation’s income status. They often live in the poorest communities and are in the cycle of poverty; by lifting them up, we can help break that cycle.
Farmers reinvesting in their farms has a positive effect on the community – it aids their governments through increased taxes, benefits local tradesmen as buildings and infrastructure are improved, and gives the farmers and their families a better economic outlook. Plus, thriving smallholder farms help stabilize the global food supply chain and get more food to markets in communities that often need increased access to nutritious food.
Another factor that negatively impacts world hunger is war. Ongoing conflicts in various nations – including Ukraine, Armenia, Iran, Yemen, Ethiopia, and Haiti – are worsening as political and social unrest grows.
The impact of war and conflict on food security is profound. As conflict breaks out in an area, many farmers must leave their land and can no longer harvest their crops. People who are displaced must also abandon their possessions and are likely to be left with nothing – not even enough money to buy food.
Infrastructure, like roads and irrigation tanks, is destroyed, making it difficult to access food and causing crops to drown or fail to grow – all leading to scarce supplies and a more expensive product. Plus, the lack of security in an area negatively affects trade.
Hunger, poverty, and conflict also work in a self-fulfilling vicious circle. As people become desperate, they are more likely to rob or kill for the food they need. Some people may be frustrated with governments that do not support hungry populations, and this can increase the risk of civil war and widespread conflict.
According to the latest report by the World Food Programme (WFP), approximately 35 million individuals faced emergency levels of acute hunger (IPC/CH Phase 4*) across 39 countries in 2022. Remarkably, more than half of these individuals were concentrated in four countries: Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan, and Yemen.
*The Integrated Food Security Classification (IPC) ranks the severity of food insecurity on a scale of 1-5: (1) Minimal/None, (2) Stressed, (3) Crisis, (4) Emergency, and (5) Catastrophe/Famine.
A natural disaster is a catastrophic natural event that results in loss of life and significant damage in a large area. Natural disasters are often weather-related events like hurricanes, tornadoes, floods, and droughts. However, natural disasters can also be caused by other phenomena such as earthquakes, volcanic eruptions, wildfires, and tsunamis.
Extreme weather conditions, otherwise known as climate shocks, can lead directly to hunger crises on a massive scale. Droughts and floods can obliterate harvests for hundreds of miles, and without the adequate infrastructure and support from governments, poor farmers have no way of rebuilding their farms and feeding their families.
Too much rainfall can flood pastures, while not enough rainfall kills the vegetation that cattle need to feed. Extreme events like hurricanes, tsunamis, and earthquakes can destroy herds of cattle in an instant.
All of this equates to a devastating loss of food security. Climate shocks can force people to abandon their homes, farms, and everything they own. Crops are destroyed, and people may slaughter cattle that are needed for milk or use up their supply of seeds, just so they can eat a meal.
People in areas of climate shocks often slip into extreme poverty and cannot afford food as a result. Climate change is only making this worse. The shifting global climate is making extreme weather events and natural disasters more common and more severe.
As climate change continues to worsen, climate shocks are having a greater impact on global food security than any other single factor.
Inequality, whether it is class-, race-, or gender-based, has a massive effect on hunger.
Just 1% of the global population owns half of the world’s wealth. This creates an imbalance in how resources are directed, with a small number of people influencing how entire economies are shaped. The billions who live in poverty lack the resources to create the economic opportunities that the wealthy can give themselves.
Inequality is prevalent even in the share of food that women and men get. Women and girls make up 60% of all food-insecure people in the world, and they represent over 70% of people suffering from chronic hunger.
The same can be said about the share of wealth and food between indigenous and non-indigenous populations. In Guatemala, 61% of indigenous children experienced stunting, compared to just 34% of non-indigenous children.
Prejudice is a recurring issue in every walk of life. Unfortunately, when it comes to hunger, prejudice impacts the distribution of food as well.
Inequality can occur on a political level, too.
Rich nations can form unfair trade agreements with poorer countries, while subsidies and bilateral deals create better market access and prices for developed nations. Developed economies can also resell natural resources from developing nations, taking most of the profits for themselves.
With less money in the pocket of enterprises within developing nations, economies suffer, and people in developing countries do not have enough money to buy food to sustain themselves.
Unfair trade agreements cause food to be distributed unjustly and prices to be higher than they should be in developing nations. Both of these factors increase food insecurity.
Governments often neglect to devise good strategies and policies for dealing with poverty. Plus, infrastructure in developing nations is generally inadequate for consistent, sustainable, and affordable food production. A lack of good irrigation systems, roads, and education means crops cannot be properly watered, food cannot be easily distributed, and children will likely struggle to find work as they grow older.
Land grabbing preys on smallholder farmers whose family may have farmed a piece of land for generations, but never received legitimate papers. With no legal documentation, governments and big companies take this land through eminent domain or even by force, leaving people with no source of income or food.
Land grabbing significantly impacts African countries like Cameroon, Liberia, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, which has lost 4% of its landmass (over 9 million hectares) in deals since 2000.
Ukraine, before the Russian invasion, saw considerable conversion of its areas for large agricultural projects – a Soviet-era legacy. This resulted in 5.5% of its landmass changing hands in ways that favored the wealthy.
When someone loses their job or is not paid enough money to cover their bills, they can be plunged into poverty and hunger. This problem is a massive reason for hunger in developed nations.
When the primary earner of a household loses their job, it can even result in entire families going hungry. In the United States, pandemic-induced job losses caused food bank usage to increase by 60% in 2020. A year later, more than 53 million people – around 33% more than before the pandemic – turned to food banks, food pantries, and meal programs for help.
There are millions of people starving in the world, yet one-third of all food that is produced is never even consumed – that is 1.3 billion tons of wasted food every year.
Wasting food also wastes the natural resources and land used to grow it. Whether the food is lost before, during, or after harvest, using up precious resources for little to no nutritional or financial gain only exacerbates global hunger and poverty.
We have enough food to feed the global population, but we must find better ways to save and distribute harvests so that everyone gets at least enough quality food to be sustained.
Hunger has an impact on every nation across the world. Even in developed countries, hunger is an issue, with many families unable to afford enough food.
But hunger causes more damage in some regions than others.
South America, Asia, and Africa are the three continents most affected by hunger.
The Food Security Information Network (FSIN) collected data on how many people are in a food crisis (IPC Phase 3 or above) across 6 primary regions:
Several countries are particularly affected by hunger, starvation, and a lack of food security.
There is always a delay in the collection and distribution of data, but the latest figures show that, as of mid-July 2022, a number of countries had received a significant amount of food aid:
According to the 2023 Global Report on Food Crises, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Afghanistan had the largest number of people affected by this issue. These three countries are home to 27% of the total number of people currently in a food crisis.
As for the remaining 73%, they are spread all across the world. Other countries where famine is a big threat, for instance, are Nigeria, Yemen, Haiti, and Myanmar.
In 2022, Ukraine emerged as one of the countries with the highest levels of food insecurity, primarily affecting people located in war zones. These areas have witnessed disruptions to major industries, supply chains, and essential infrastructure. As a result, food security, particularly for children, has been adversely impacted.
Here are three countries that are among the worst affected by hunger for different reasons.
Yemen is currently facing one of the world’s most severe humanitarian crises, caused by a devastating combination of factors. After nine years of armed conflict, inadequate humanitarian assistance, and economic collapse, 55% of the Yemeni population is severely food insecure.
The war in Ukraine has had a compounding effect on hunger in Yemen, which depends on Ukrainian food imports. From January to May 2022 alone, more than 1 million people descended into a food crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 or above), bringing the total to over 17 million people affected in the country.
Some of the most impacted areas are the districts of Abs, Aslem, and Al Maghrabah in the Hajjah governorate, which witnessed approximately 31,000 people in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) and 5.6 million people in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) situations, constituting 18% of the country’s population.
Conflict, drought, and an ongoing economic crisis continue to plague Afghanistan, resulting in a persistent and alarming situation of acute food insecurity.
Between November 2022 and March 2023, an estimated 19.9 million people, representing 46% of the population, were classified as being in Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 or above). While this indicates a slight improvement from the previous year’s estimate (22.8 million people, or 55% of the population), Afghanistan continues to be in one of the world's worst food crises.
Decades of conflict, reduced food availability during winter, high food prices, and macroeconomic challenges (including high unemployment rates) contribute to the situation. Economic shocks following the Taliban's takeover exacerbated the crisis, hindering the country's ability to import essential supplies.
More than half of Afghan households reported economic shocks, limited food access, and debt reliance in 2022. Women were disproportionately affected by employment and movement restrictions. Decreasing inflation and the stabilization of Afghanistan’s currency have offered some relief, but the challenges persist. Afghanistan's food security remains a critical concern, demanding urgent humanitarian assistance.
Haiti's food crisis has been consistently escalating since 2018, recognized as a major crisis in all Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) editions. In late 2022, it hit a seven-year high due to widespread insecurity, gang violence, a long-standing macroeconomic crisis, the lingering effects of past natural disasters, and low agricultural productivity.
Almost half of the population – 4.9 million people – faced Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 or above), with 15 areas in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and over 19,000 people in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) for the first time in the IPC’s history.
Consecutive crises – including the Covid-19 pandemic, an earthquake in 2021, and political instability – have battered Haiti's economy, leading to the closure of many small businesses.
Inflation surged, exceeding 30% for both food and non-food items. Below-average rainfall, high input costs, and fuel shortages caused reduced cereal harvests in 2022. Meanwhile, the cost of the basic food basket – a measure of the ingredients needed to satisfy a person’s nutritional needs – rose by 134% compared to the five-year average. The weakening currency further strained the heavy reliance on expensive food imports.
We have highlighted these three countries, but there are dozens of nations experiencing high levels of food insecurity in 2023. For instance, around 40%–65% of the populations in South Sudan, Colombia, Angola, Syria, Central Africa, and Pakistan are facing a food crisis, emergency, or catastrophe (IPC Phase 3 or above).
Throughout this article, we have touched on the ways children are affected by hunger and famine. But what do the numbers say about the state of child hunger across the world?
Malnutrition, hunger, and starvation in children lead to reduced physical and mental development.
Hunger negatively impacts a child’s growth, and two definitions allow us to gauge hunger’s impact on physical development:
Wasting refers to the situation where a child is underweight for their height, usually as a result of malnutrition and starvation.
Stunting is when a child is too short for their age because of chronic malnutrition or starvation.
So, how are children affected by wasting and stunting?
When children are starved for too long and cannot access aid or healthcare, their bodies lack the basic nutrients to maintain life.
The issue of child hunger shows no signs of abating. With global food insecurity and starvation getting worse every year, more children will die from hunger.
According to the GRFC 2023 report, the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity has been rising for four consecutive years. In 2022, nearly 258 million individuals were affected, up by over 33% from 193 million in 2021. This is the highest number of food insecure people since 2017.
The war in Ukraine has had a significant impact on global food systems, especially because Ukraine and Russia play crucial roles in producing fuel, fertilizers, and essential commodities like wheat and maize. Higher international commodity prices have compounded economic challenges, particularly for low-income countries that rely on food imports.
The timing of the conflict coincided with increased international commodity prices in the first half of 2022, further exacerbating the economic challenges faced by countries after the Covid-19 pandemic. Low-income countries, many of which are net food importers with limited resources, were vulnerable to the volatility of commodity markets.
Although global food prices decreased slightly by the end of 2022, they remained significantly higher than before the pandemic. In contrast, domestic food prices increased in all the countries assessed by the GRFC, with 38 of the 58 nations grappling with food crises seeing food inflation rates higher than 10%.
Unfortunately, governments in these low-income countries had limited capacity to protect their citizens from food price inflation due to stretched budgets caused by the Covid-19 pandemic. In fact, many of the countries assessed by the GRFC experienced rapid currency devaluation in 2022.
Economic shocks (including those resulting from Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine) were the primary drivers of acute food insecurity in 27 nations, affecting a staggering 83.9 million individuals in 2022. This represents a significant increase compared to 2021, when 30.2 million people spread across 21 countries faced similar conditions.
These interconnected challenges pose a major obstacle to the UN’s goal of ending hunger by 2030, as the number of individuals facing acute food insecurity continues to rise. Impoverished nations now face longer recovery periods and reduced resilience to future shocks.
Covid-19 caused a significant reduction in trade with the closing of international borders. Millions of people lost their jobs and could no longer put food on the table. This led to a widespread increase in hunger globally, but especially in poorer communities.
With 5.8% of the global labor force currently unemployed, and the global economy at risk of a recession, food security levels are uncertain for millions of people.
The uncertain market conditions and negative economic outlook are impeding investment and slowing productivity. As a result, access to high-paying jobs is becoming increasingly challenging.
The rise in global unemployment has resulted in a heightened risk of poverty, to the point that even historically wealthy nations, such as Europe's largest, are affected.
In 2021, approximately 95.4 million people in the EU, accounting for 21.7% of the population, faced the risk of poverty or social exclusion. This means they lived in households experiencing at least one of three forms of vulnerability: poverty, severe material and social deprivation, or very low work intensity.
This is a slight increase compared to 2020, when 94.8 million individuals (21.6% of the EU’s population) were similarly affected by poverty.
The World Bank estimates that up to 719 million people are living in extreme poverty in 2023. To make matters worse, food prices are continuing to rise because of factors such as drought and the war in Ukraine, meaning that proper nutrition is increasingly inaccessible for families living in poverty. Many people are now forced to reduce their food portions or, in some cases, go without meals altogether.
There are several ways we can combat world hunger through the work of institutions and national committees, as well as the positive change we can make on an individual level.
Goal 2: Zero Hunger is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) set by the UN for the betterment of the human race. With the Zero Hunger initiative, the UN has outlined a number of specific objectives that must be met by the year 2030 to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition across the world.
The plan aims to provide every person, and especially every child, with a consistently adequate level of nutrition. It includes aspects of sustainable agriculture, support for smallholder farmers, as well as improved and ethical access to land, technology, and markets for everyone, no matter their financial or geographical position.
Included in Goal 2: Zero Hunger are several specific elements:
Goal 2: Zero Hunger
To end hunger and ensure access for everyone (especially the poor and vulnerable) to adequate nutritious food every year, by 2030.
To end malnutrition in all forms by 2030. Objective 2.2 aims to reduce stunting and wasting in children under 5 years old. It also strives to meet the nutritional needs of adolescent girls, pregnant and lactating women, and older persons.
To double productivity and income in small-scale food producers by 2030, including women, indigenous people, family farmers, pastoralists, and fishers, through equal access to resources.
To implement sustainable food production and resilient agricultural practices by 2030. Objective 2.4 aims to increase productivity, maintain ecosystems, and adapt to climate change and extreme weather events.
To maintain the biodiversity of cultivated land, including seeds, plants, and farmed/domestic animals, while promoting access to genetic resources and any associated traditional knowledge.
To increase investment by improving international cooperation. Investment should be increased in rural infrastructure, agricultural research and extension, technological development, as well as plant and livestock gene banks to increase production in developing countries.
Prevent trade restrictions in global farming markets by eradicating subsidies and export measures.
Ensure that food commodity markets, and their derivatives, function correctly – with adequate access to market information. This should limit the volatility of food prices.
Initially launched in 2012 by UN secretary-general Ban Ki-moon, the Zero Hunger Challenge contains five aspects of the sustainable development goal for hunger.
These are the most important elements that, together, can put an end to malnutrition while building sustainable and easily accessible food systems.
The Zero Hunger Challenge echoes the goal of stopping world hunger by the year 2030. However, the challenge also acknowledges that this goal cannot be achieved by a few people, and it calls for commitment and cooperation in the pursuit of zero hunger. We must all contribute, on an international and individual level.
The Zero Hunger Challenge
Sustainability in every food system, from production to consumption.
End poverty in rural areas, doubling the productivity and income of small-scale producers.
Stop food loss and waste, through developing food systems.
Access to an adequate supply of food for everyone, all year round.
Put an end to malnutrition, in every sense of the word.
By bringing together individuals, organizations, nations, and entities at every level, the Zero Hunger Challenge may bring an end to poverty and hunger.
The structure of the Zero Hunger Challenge encourages governments to share strategies and knowledge with each other and the community, and it also promotes regional cooperation.
The goals set out by the Zero Hunger Challenge and the Sustainable Development Goals for Hunger are reliant on large-scale collaboration and funding.
However, based on IISD research, an increase of some $11 billion per year is needed between now and 2030 to reach the UN’s hunger goals. Estimates suggest $4 billion of this funding must come from donors, and $7 billion from low- and low-middle income nations themselves. This funding would generate an extra $5 billion of private investment each year until 2030.
Unfortunately, this increase is unlikely given the financial implications of Covid-19 and the current geopolitical climate.
Despite the goal of zero hunger, 670 million people are expected to still be facing hunger by 2030, accounting for 8% of the global population. Researchers project that the Covid-19 pandemic alone will be responsible for 78 million of these undernourished people. The figure was calculated by comparing the current projection to a scenario where the Covid-19 pandemic never happened.
Ongoing conflicts, a growing global population, and the intensifying presence of climate change further complicate meeting the goals set by the UN. That being said, those goals remain integral if we are to effectively fight world hunger.
The World Food Programme (WFP) is one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world. It is an entire branch of the United Nations, and it presides over the goal to end world hunger by 2030.
The program aims to combat inequality, climate change, and disaster risks while providing sustainability, nutrition, and support to people and smallholder farmers across the world. The WFP won a Nobel peace prize in 2020 for its continued work.
With more than 22,300 staff, the WFP operates in 120 countries and territories, focusing primarily on regions affected by war and conflict. It collaborates with 1,000+ non-governmental organizations (NGOs), working in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
In 2022, the WFP reached a record number of 158 million people through its humanitarian program. This was possible thanks to the support of donors, who contributed $14.2 billion in 2022 alone.
However, the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have raised prices, impacting the operations of the WFP. The organization’s costs have increased by 44%, amounting to an extra $73.6 million per month for their operations.
There are other large-scale initiatives and NGOs that are committed to ending world hunger.
The Hunger Project is a non-profit organization with operations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Like the WFP, it aims to end world hunger and promotes sustainability while also emphasizing women-centric strategies.
The World Bank is an international institution that provides loans and financial support to emerging enterprises across more than 189 countries. The project centers on two specific goals: to reduce the share of the global population that lives in extreme poverty to 3% by 2030 and to increase the incomes of the poorest 40% of people in each nation across the world.
Care, like other humanitarian projects, is a charitable organization that aims to end hunger while promoting equality and social justice. In 2022, 1,631 Care projects took effect in over 111 countries, directly aiding over 174 million people in the process.
Each country's adherence to the Sustainable Development Goals is a must when conducting aid operations in low- and low-middle income countries. Projects that meet these criteria have the best chance of creating lasting change in the fight against poverty and hunger.
That being said, there are a number of other ways nations can help in the fight against hunger as well. Donating to NGOs is one strategy. Many charitable organizations already have a huge global infrastructure, and donating money can help them broaden their reach. The United Nations regularly donates grants to NGOs, on the basis that they are well established within their field of expertise, and nations may look to adopt this approach within their own borders.
UNICEF is another organization doing great work in the fight against hunger. UNICEF is funded primarily by governments, though NGOs and private investors also support UNICEF’s projects. The organization primarily works to help children, as ending child poverty and hunger is one of its biggest goals.
There are also other ways for countries to be directly involved. For instance, the DAC brings together more than 20 nations in order to strategize an effective response to world hunger. The organization works as a committee and is funded by member states. The DAC then carries out aid operations across the world.
There are practical, everyday steps we can take to combat world hunger. Minimizing our own food waste by repurposing leftovers is a simple yet significant action that we can all adopt.
Supporting local farmers' markets is another effective strategy. This not only benefits small-scale farmers but also promotes sustainable farming practices.
Volunteering your time in areas like food deliveries, fundraising, or awareness campaigns could be a rewarding way to contribute as well. Remember: alleviating hunger is not just about food provision but also about strengthening communities and fostering equality.
Reconsider your gift-giving habits, too. A donation certificate to a hunger- or poverty-fighting charity in lieu of a material gift extends the spirit of generosity to those who need it the most.
Lastly, when it comes to charitable contributions to shelters and food banks, consider donating money instead of physical food items. With economies of scale, these organizations can purchase much more food per dollar, ensure supplies match demand, and reduce waste.
In 2023, the magnitude of the world hunger crisis remains staggering. From disaster-stricken regions in Africa to impoverished areas in Asia and South America, poverty and hunger continue to plague the lives of countless individuals, posing a grave threat to their well-being.
This global epidemic knows no borders and seems to be only getting worse. Educating ourselves and raising awareness about the dire state of world hunger is the crucial first step toward fostering a unified and effective response.
By acknowledging the severity of the problem and embracing our role as global citizens, we can make a meaningful impact. Together, let us extend our compassion and support to those affected by hunger, working toward a future where no one has to endure the pain and suffering caused by the absence of basic sustenance.