At present, more than 1 billion people are undernourished, according to FAO estimates. due to the combination of food and economic crises that have pushed the number of hungry people worldwide to historic levels.
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 the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
According FAO’s annual hunger report, nearly all the world's undernourished live in developing countries:
In Asia and the Pacific, 642 million;
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,
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 shows the weakness of the global food security governance system, according to the FAO.
"We applaud the new commitment to tackle food security, but we must act quickly. It is unacceptable in the 21st century that almost one in six of the world's population is now going hungry"
Josette Sheeran, Executive Director of the UN World Food Programme.
Several factors have contributed to making the current crisis particularly devastating for poor households in the developing countriesL
1) the crisis is affecting large parts of the world simultaneously, reducing the scope for traditional coping mechanisms such as currency devaluation, borrowing or increased use of official development assistance or migrant remittances.
2) he economic crisis comes on top of a food crisis that has already strained the coping strategies of the poor, hitting those most vulnerable to food insecurity when they are down. Faced with high domestic food prices, reduced incomes and employment and having already sold off assets, reduced food consumption and cut spending on essential items such as health care and education, these families risk falling deeper into destitution and the hunger-poverty trap.
3) The third factor that differentiates this crisis from those of the past is that developing countries have become more integrated, both financially and commercially, into the world economy than they were 20 years ago, making them more vulnerable to changes in international markets.
Many countries have experienced across-the-board drops in their trade and financial inflows, and have seen their export earnings, foreign investment, development aid and remittances falling. This not only reduces employment opportunities, but also reduces the money available to governments for programmes promoting growth and supporting those in need.
FAO and WFP continue to advocate a twin-track approach to address both the short-term acute hunger spurred by sudden food shortages and the longer-term chronic hunger that is symptomatic of extreme poverty as a way for durable solutions. Small-scale farmers need access to high-quality seeds, fertilizers, feed and technologies to be able to boost productivity and production. And their governments need economic and policy tools to ensure that their countries’ agriculture sectors are both more productive and more resilient in the face of crises.
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