Although progress has been made towards ending world hunger in past decades, the Global Hunger Index 2017 report shows hunger is on the rise again, potentially derailing the United Nations’ goal of ending hunger by 2030.
The absolute number of people without enough food globally has increased to 815 million in 2016, up from 777 million in 2015 — the first increase since 2008, according to a UN report.
“There are actually quite a few countries that are in serious risk of hunger or alarming states of hunger,” Rob Vos, an official at the International Food Policy Research Institute, told NPR.
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According to Vos, 52 out of the 106 countries for which data is available are suffering from hunger. The GHI rated 52 countries as “Serious,” “Alarming,” or “Extremely Alarming” in terms of food security.
The countries where famine has become a great concern include Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, and Nigeria. The UN reported that an estimated 20 million people are at risk of famine in these countries.
All four countries are affected by ongoing violent conflicts and weather conditions fueled by climate change. Collectively, an estimated 1.4 million children are suffering from malnutrition in these countries and could die this year, according to the UN Children’s Agency.
“We must provide immediate aid to those areas facing the most severe crises, such as famines, and construct policies at the international and national levels to address the structural issues that create persistent food insecurity," Shenggen Fan, director general of the International Food Policy Research Institute, told ABC news.
Amid the overall rise in hunger, there were some countries that improved.
Since 2000, GHI scores of 14 countries, including Senegal, Azerbaijan, Peru, Panama, Brazil, and China improved by 50% or more. Angola, Ethiopia and Rwanda, each of which experienced violent conflicts in recent decades, were among 72 countries that improved.
Since 2000, Rwanda, Cambodia, and Myanmar, have seen the largest percentage reductions in hunger of all the countries categorized as serious or alarming, with 2016 GHI scores down by just over 50% relative to scores from 2000. Rwanda saw child mortality fall by 75% and undernourishment has fell by nearly half.