WASHINGTON, Sept. 18, 2017 – Despite numerous efforts to eliminate hunger and malnutrition around the globe, the number of people hungry is rising for the first time in more than a decade, says a new United Nations report titled “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2017.” Some 815 million people were hungry in 2016 – an increase of 38 million from the previous year, according to the study.

“This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore,” the authors say in a forward to the report. “We will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end.”.

Some of the highest proportions of food-insecure and malnourished children in the world are now concentrated in conflict zones, according to the report.

Of the 815 million chronically food-insecure and malnourished people in the world, a clear majority – 489 million – live in countries affected by conflict.

The proportion is even more pronounced for undernourished children. Almost 122 million, or 75 percent, of stunted children under age five live in countries affected by conflict, with the difference in average prevalence between conflict and non-conflict affected countries at 9 percentage points.

"Peace is, of course, the key to ending these crises, but we cannot wait for peace to take action. It is extremely important to ensure that these people have the conditions to continue producing their own food. Vulnerable rural people cannot be left behind, especially youth and women,"
said José Graziano da Silva, director-general of the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

However, even in regions that are more peaceful, droughts or floods linked in part to an El Niño weather phenomenon, as well as the global economic slowdown, have also seen food security and nutrition deteriorate, added the authors involved with producing the report.

“One of the greatest challenges the world faces is how to ensure that a growing global population – projected to rise to around 10 billion by 2050 – has enough food to meet their nutritional needs,” the authors said. “To feed another 2 billion people in 2050, food production will need to increase by 50 percent globally. Food security is a complex condition requiring a holistic approach to all forms of malnutrition, the productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers, resilience of food production systems and the sustainable use of biodiversity and genetic resources.”

The heads of agencies issuing the report are: José Graziano da Silva, director-general of FAO; Gilbert F. Houngbo, president of IFAD; Anthony Lake, executive director of UNICEF; David Beasley, executive director of WFP; and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of WHO.


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