Press Release

Hunger levels remain “serious” or “alarming” in 52 developing countries

Oct 12, 2015
United States
  • Hunger level down 27 percent since 2000 in developing world
  • Report says conflicts are strongly associated with severe hunger

October 12, 2015—Despite progress in reducing hunger worldwide, hunger levels in 52 of 117 countries in the 2015 Global Hunger Index remain “serious” (44 countries) or “alarming” (8 countries). The Central African Republic, Chad, and Zambia had the highest hunger levels in the report, which was released today by the International Food Policy Research Institute, Welthungerhilfe, and Concern Worldwide.

Conflicts can be strongly associated with severe hunger, according to the report, which focused on armed conflict and the challenge of hunger in the main essay. The countries with the highest and worst GHI scores tend to be those engaged in or recently emerged from war. The two worst-scoring countries both experienced violent conflict and political instability in recent years. In contrast, in Angola, Ethiopia, and Rwanda, hunger levels have fallen substantially since the end of the civil wars of the 1990s and 2000s.

The report outlined some bright spots in the fight to end world hunger. The level of hunger in developing countries has fallen by 27 percent since 2000, and 17 countries reduced their hunger scores by at least half since 2000. Among those countries are Azerbaijan, Brazil, Croatia, Mongolia, Peru, and Venezuela. Some of the world’s poorest countries could not be included in the report due to unavailable data. As a result, the picture of global hunger may be worse than reported here.

Global hunger is a continuing challenge with one in nine people worldwide chronically undernourished and more than one quarter of children too short for their age due to nutritional deficiencies. Nearly half of all child deaths under age five are due to malnutrition, which claims the lives of about 3.1 million children per year.

This year’s essay sheds light on an unheralded achievement of the past 50 years. “Calamitous famines,” those that kill more than one million people, seem to have vanished.

“War and conquest have long been the drivers of mass starvation. Although humanitarian responses are far faster and more proficient than in the past, we still need to attend to the perils of armed conflict and inhumane policies generating severe hunger,” said Alex de Waal, author of the essay and executive director of the World Peace Foundation and research professor at Tufts University. “The world has enough food, enough logistics, enough knowledge, to end severe hunger: achieving that is a matter of political will only.”

Between 1870 and 2014, 106 instances of famine and mass starvation each killed 100,000 people or more. Despite a decrease in wars over recent decades, the number of violent conflicts and conflict-related deaths has recently increased from an all-time low in 2006.

“We are more confident today than ever before that we can end hunger, provided we do not rest on our accomplishments,” said Shenggen Fan, IFPRI director general. “We must keep pushing, keep partnering, and keep innovating until nutrient-rich foods become sustainably accessible, available, and used by everyone in order to reach their full potential.”

“More than 80 percent of those affected by armed conflict stay within their countries. They are the ones who suffer most from severe food insecurity,” said Welthungerhilfe president Bärbel Dieckmann. “We need to do more to support these people and to help restore their livelihoods. However, unless we address the root causes of armed conflict, the progress made in reducing hunger will not last.”

“Conflict is development in reverse. Without peace, ending poverty and hunger by 2030 will never be achieved. The time has come for the international community to make conflict prevention, mitigation, and resolution a far higher political priority,” Concern CEO Dominic MacSorley said. “Diplomatic muscle and political will is urgently needed in equal measure to prevent the appalling levels of poverty, suffering and horrific brutality that seem commonplace in too many of today’s conflicts.”

More information can be found at: www.ifpri.org/ghi/2015

Refugees and Hunger

  • When famine occurs today, it is usually the result of armed conflict.
  • An average of 42,500 people per day fled their homes last year. Approximately 59.5 million people are displaced by conflict worldwide, more than ever before.
  • Although refugees are more visible, 87% of those affected by conflict do not flee their homes—and tend to fare worse than those displaced.
  • With the current migrant crisis, we need a global response to support those fleeing conflict and persecution within or outside their home countries.

 

For more information, please contact:
IFPRI: Daniel Burnett, d.burnett@cgiar.org +1 202 627 4311
Concern Worldwide: Paul O’Mahony, paul.omahony@concern.net +353 1 4491309
Welthungerhilfe: Simone Pott, simone.pott@welthungerhilfe.de +49 228 22 88 132

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The International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) seeks sustainable solutions for ending hunger and poverty. IFPRI was established in 1975 to identify and analyze alternative national and international strategies and policies for meeting the food needs of the developing world, with particular emphasis on low-income countries and on the poorer groups in those countries Visit: www.ifpri.org.

Welthungerhilfe is one of the largest non-governmental aid organizations in Germany. It provides fully integrated aid from one source, ranging from rapid emergency relief to reconstruction programs, as well as long-term development projects with local partner organizations following the principle of help toward self-help. In addition, we aim at changing the conditions that lead to hunger and poverty by awareness raising and advocacy work at the national and international level. Visit: www.welthungerhilfe.de.

Founded in Ireland in 1968, Concern Worldwide is a non-governmental, international, humanitarian organization, dedicated to the reduction of suffering and working toward the ultimate elimination of extreme poverty. The mission is to help people living in extreme poverty to achieve major improvements in their lives which last and spread without ongoing support from Concern. Concern currently works in 27 of the world’s poorest countries, with offices in London, New York, Belfast and Dublin and more than 2,900 committed and talented staff. Visit: www.concern.net.