19 September 2017
After Ten Years of Decline, Global Hunger Increased in 2016, Driven by Conflict and Climate Impacts
UN Photo/Isaac Billy
story highlights

The Report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World reports that hunger has increased in 2016 for the first time after a decade of year-over-year declines.

The decline in food security is particularly severe in countries affected by conflict and climate-related disasters.

The report uses a new framework covering targets 2.1 (end hunger) and 2.2 (end all forms of malnutrition) of SDG 2.

Among other nutrition-related trends, it highlights that obesity in adults and children is rising in all countries at an accelerating rate.

15 September 2017: The first global report assessing both hunger and malnutrition in the context of SDG 2 (End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture) shows that trends in combating hunger may be reversing as the number of hungry people increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.

Food security has declined particularly in parts of sub-Saharan Africa, South-Eastern Asia and Western Asia. Most declines have been observed in countries affected by conflict and climate-related shocks including droughts and floods. Hunger and undernutrition are particularly severe in regions where conflicts are prolonged and institutional capacities are weak. According to the publication, the halt, or possible reversal, in the trend of hunger is not yet reflected in other indicators such as the prevalence of childhood stunting which has continued to decline from 29.5% to 22.9% globally between 2005 and 2016. The decrease in the prevalence of hunger, however, has been slowing for several years and now increased from 10.6% to 11% of the world’s population. This could indicate a reversal in the trend of reducing hunger on a global scale. At the same time, other forms of malnutrition, especially obesity in children and adults are increasing across all regions. Overall, the data reported imply that worldwide one person in ten is suffering from hunger, and almost one in three children below the age of five either suffering from stunting or wasting, or affected by obesity.

Conflict and climate impacts could drive a reversal in recent achievements in reducing hunger and malnutrition

The second part of the report analyzes the link between conflict and food insecurity. Data show that there has been a marked increase in violent conflicts and conflict-related deaths since 2010. The prevalence of chronic food insecurity and childhood stunting was higher in countries affected by conflict than in other countries. The situation was especially severe in cases where conflict and climate-related shocks reinforced each other leading to protracted crises. The publication therefore cautions that conflict and climate impacts could drive a reversal in recent achievements in reducing hunger and malnutrition, thus underlining the linkages between SDG 2 and SDG 14 (Climate action) and SDG 16 (Peace, justice and strong institutions). Other linkages highlighted include the role of food security for health and wellbeing (SDG 3) and interdependencies with poverty (SDG 1).

A New Framework to Monitor SDG 2

The report uses a new framework that monitors progress towards the SDG 2 targets of ending hunger (target 2.1) and ending all forms of malnutrition (target 2.2), including several new indicators on food security and various aspects of malnutrition such as the prevalence of obesity in children and adults, childhood stunting and wasting, and anemia in women of reproductive age.

The World Health Organization (WHO) and UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) have joined the consortium of organizations preparing the report, which to date included the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Food Programme (WFP) . [Joint Press Release by FAO, IFAD, WFP, WHO and UNICEF][UN Press Release][Publication: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World][Report Summary][Interactive Digital Edition][Webcast of Report Launch]

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