World Hunger Statistics – New Numbers versus Old

The 2012 FAO Hunger Report is out, and it has new revised estimates of the number of hungry persons worldwide. These world hunger statistics are summed up on the front page of the FAO Hunger website as follows:

Number and percentage of undernourished persons:
2010-2012 — 868 million (12%)
2007-2009 — 867 million (13%)
2004-2006 — 898 million (14%)
1991-2001 — 919 million (15%)
1990-1992 — 1000 million (19%)

The old numbers from the same source are:
2006-2008 — 850 million (13%)
2000-2002 — 836 million (14%)
1995-1997 — 792 million (14%)
1990-1992 — 848 million (16%)
1979-1981 — 853 million (21%)
1969-1971 — 878 million (26%)

All of the numbers are higher in the new estimates. So it stands to reason that if the new methodology were applied to the years prior to 1990, those numbers would likely be higher also. But even with the new method of calculating the number of chronically undernourished persons, the numbers are a rough approximation. What is abundantly clear is that, despite substantial progress in the battle against hunger, the number and percent of hungry persons remains unacceptably high.

Also, in either set of numbers, the progress against hunger has slowed substantially. The drop from 26% of the world population to 21%, in about ten years, is excellent. But in the mid to late 1990’s, the gains appear to be small or non-existent. The eight year period from 2004 to 2012 showed only a small decrease. We are not doing as much as we could do, nor as much as we have done in the pat, to address world hunger. That needs to change.


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