A United Nations’ target set in 2000 to reduce global hunger by a half by 2015 had almost been achieved. According to the State of Food Insecurity in the World report from the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations, the International Find for Agricultural Development and the World Food Programme, 72 countries out of the 129 being monitored had achieved the First Millennium Development Goad of “cutting by half the proportion of people, who suffer from hunger by 2015”.
A total of 29 of these countries had reached the World Food Summit goal set in 1996 to “eradicate hunger in all countries, with an intermediate view to reducing the number of undernourished people to half their present level no later than 2015”.
However, the report says that despite the advances that have been made hunger remains a challenge for nearly 795 million people in the world, with 780 million in the developing world.
“Hence hunger eradication should remain a key commitment of decision-makes at all levels,” the report says.
The report says that in the short term, the only means to address food insecurity is humanitarian intervention.
In the medium and the long term, hunger eradication can only be pursued if all people involved contribute to drawing up policies for improving economic opportunities, the protection of vulnerable groups and disaster preparedness and making sure they are put into action.
The report adds that any action at the global and regional levels should take into account he needs of different countries and their exposure to natural and manmade disasters, especially those of small island developing states.
The report says that economic growth is necessary to sustain progress in efforts to reduce poverty, hunger and malnutrition.
However, there is also a need for growth that provides opportunities for those with meagre assets, skills and opportunities and improves the incomes and livelihoods of the poor.
It says that only in this way will growth be effective in the fight against hunger and malnutrition.
Rural people make up a high percentage of the hungry and malnourished in developing countries, and efforts to promote growth in agriculture and the rural sector are an important component of a strategy for promoting inclusive growth and improving food security and nutrition.
The report adds that improving the productivity of resources held by family farmers and smallholders is, in most cases, an essential element of inclusive growth and has broad implications for the livelihoods of the rural poor and for the rural economy in general.
There needs to be good and efficient markets for food, inputs and labour to integrate family farmers and smallholders in the rural economy and enable the poor in the rural communities to diversify, which, the report says, is critical for managing risk, and reducing hunger and malnutrition.
Openness in international trade also has the potential to improve food security and nutrition by increasing food availability and promoting investment and growth.
The report calls for international trade agreements to provide effective safeguards and help developing countries avoid damaging domestic food security and nutrition.
The report adds that social protection directly contributes to the reduction of hunger and malnutrition by promoting income security and access to better nutrition, healthcare and education.
It concludes that the prevalence of food insecurity and malnutrition is significantly higher in regions where there are drawn out crises resulting from conflict and natural disasters.
It says there has to be strong political commitment to address the root causes of these crises situations.
“Action should focus on addressing vulnerability, respecting basic human rights and integrating humanitarian and development assistance,” the report says.