Source: FMSC Distribution Partner - East Africa
Source: FMSC Distribution Partner – East Africa

Generation Y may be history’s first zero-hunger generation.

The United Nations published one of the most uplifting reports in recent decades: that we are on track to eliminate world hunger within a single generation.

The comprehensive 62-page report, titled “The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 (pdf)” tracked food security and malnourishment in 129 countries for more than two decades. Of those, 79 countries have halved food malnourishment in their populations since 2000, a target set as part of U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals (MDG).

The number of malnourished people in the world – defined as not consuming enough calories for an active and healthy life – is still at a staggering 795 million, but that has dropped from over 1.2 billion from 25 years ago.

“The near-achievement of the MDG hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime,” said José Graziano da Silva, Director General of UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization. “We must be the Zero Hunger generation.”

World hunger level, 1990 – 2015

The trajectory of undernourishment in developing regions: actual and projected progress towards the MDG and WFS targets. Source: FAO
The trajectory of undernourishment in developing regions: actual and projected progress towards the MDG and WFS targets. Source: FAO

The progress comes as the world population increased by 1.9 billion since 1990, making the reduction in undernourished people even more striking.

Not all progress are made the same

Source: Gates Foundation / Flickr
Source: Gates Foundation / Flickr

Despite the overwhelming success, there were numerous hiccups along the road. The economic slowdown that started in 2008 bumped a small increase in world hunger and impeded progress.

In addition, the FAO reports that extreme weathers, natural disasters, political instability, and civil strife all hampered progress, especially in African countries. In sub-Saharan Africa, 1 in 4 people are undernourished.

During the past two decades when most of the world was experiencing rapid decrease in undernourishment, Africa’s total undernourished number actually increased due to the boom in population.

Despite the overall world progress in reduction of hunger, Africa's total number of malnourishment actually increased. Source: FAO
Despite the overall world progress in reduction of hunger, Africa’s total number of malnourishment actually increased. Source: FAO

In addition, countries that rely heavily on international trade for food are especially vulnerable to food shortage. “Stability remains a challenge in regions that are heavily reliant on international food markets for domestic supplies, have not ensured domestic food access.” says the FAO report.

The biggest challenge moving forward is to find ways to stabilize these regions in order allow people to improve their nutrition.

Ertharin Cousin, World Food Program’s executive director, said that satisfying nutritional requirements is not just a moral issue. It’s fundamental to economic growth.

“Men, women and children need nutritious food every day to have any chance of a free and prosperous future, healthy bodies and minds are fundamental to both individual and economic growth, and that growth must be inclusive for us to make hunger history.”

You can read the complete 62-page report on Food and Agriculture Organization’s website.