A new report from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP) released Tuesday said that one in eight people, or about 870 million people, in the world suffered from “chronic undernourishment” during the 2010-2012 period.
The majority of these hungry mouths -- 852 million --- are in developing countries.
Moreover, between 1990-1992 and 2010-2012, the number of hungry people dropped by 132 million -- or from 18.6 percent of the global population to 12.5 percent. In the developing world, these figures fell from 23.2 percent to 14.9 percent.
In the Asia-Pacfic region, the number of hungry people plunged by almost 30 percent, due to significant improvement in the economy, despite population growth.
Only in Africa did hunger increase over that period --- from 175 million to 239 million.
While the overall number of hungry humans has been steadily declining, U.N. officials warned more work must be done to eradicate hunger.
"In today's world of unprecedented technical and economic opportunities, we find it entirely unacceptable that more than 100 million children under five are underweight, and therefore unable to realize their full human and socio-economic potential, and that childhood malnutrition is a cause of death for more than 2.5 million children every year," said José Graziano da Silva, Kanayo F. Nwanze and Ertharin Cousin, respectively the heads of FAO, IFAD and WFP, in a statement.
"We note with particular concern that the recovery of the world economy from the recent global financial crisis remains fragile. We nonetheless appeal to the international community to make extra efforts to assist the poorest in realizing their basic human right to adequate food. The world has the knowledge and the means to eliminate all forms of food insecurity and malnutrition."
On a side note, it would appear that the number of the world's hungry fell more sharply between 1990 and 2007 than previously thought. The FAO blamed “flawed methodology and poor data” for the “erroneous assessment." Still, since 2008, when the global financial crisis erupted, the decline leveled off.
In any case, the FAO is now within sight of reaching their U.N. Millennium Development Goal of halving hunger in the developing world by 2015.
“If the average annual hunger reduction of the past 20 years continues through to 2015, the percentage of undernourishment in the developing countries would reach 12.5 percent – still above the MDG target of 11.6 percent, but much closer to it than previously estimated,” the report said.