Counting Hunger: Doing Less for the Hungry

The world has just discovered that it has helped far fewer people escape their hunger than had been imagined. What will this do for the pious rhetoric of international summits? The current pace of progress will take centuries to end hunger, but is there the commitment to do more and save lives?

The World Today Updated 21 October 2020 Published 1 March 2003 4 minute READ

Ana Gonzalez-Pelaez

has recently completed research on basic human rights in international society at the University of Westminster

The battle against hunger has recently undergone a dramatic statistical review. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)’s new numbers on hunger published in October have revised sharply downwards its previous estimates of the progress achieved during the 1990s. The previous figures were the reference point for all main international agreements on the eradication of hunger, so what implications do these new estimates have for the credibility of the campaign to reduce hunger?

The crucial moment for international action against hunger was the 1996 World Food Summit, when governments agreed to halve the number of hungry people by 2015. Their benchmark was the 818 million undernourished in the developing world in 1990-1992. Halving this by 2015 required annual reductions of twenty million.

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