Globally, the number of people suffering from hunger has increased for the third consecutive year, according to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World. The report, published this week by United Nations agencies, shows that more than 820 million people faced hunger in 2018, compared to 811 million people the previous year.
Until 2015, global hunger rates had been on the decline for more than a decade. Today, one in nine people are undernourished, a situation driven largely by conflict, climate variability, and lack of economic growth.
“This dangerous reversal in progress should be a wake-up call to governments everywhere. We cannot abandon our shared goal of ending global hunger,” says Dr. Charles Owubah, CEO of Action Against Hunger USA. “It’s a travesty that in this day and age, so many people—especially young children—are suffering from a preventable and treatable condition. The world needs a better way to deal with hunger.”
The situation is especially troubling in Africa, where hunger rates have continued to rise. East Africa, where 30.8% of the population is undernourished, bears the highest prevalence of undernutrition in the world.
“We are concerned that malnutrition in the Horn and East Africa will become even worse due to protracted conflict and drought,” says Hajir Haalim, Action Against Hunger’s Regional Director for the Horn and East Africa. “We are prepared to scale up our operations, but need significantly more funding.”
Around the world, the number of people facing the deadliest form of hunger—acute malnutrition—is particularly concerning. In 2018, 49.5 million children were affected by acute malnutrition. Women are also disproportionately affected by hunger. On every continent, the prevalence of food insecurity is slightly higher among women than men, with the largest differences found in Latin America.
For 40 years, Action Against Hunger has been on the front lines, treating and preventing hunger in some of the world’s most challenging contexts. In 2018, Action Against Hunger reached more than 21 million people in nearly 50 countries around the world. Last year, we provided lifesaving treatment to nearly double the number of acutely malnourished people as the year before.