World Hunger: Key Facts and Statistics in 2023
In a world characterized by complex health and societal challenges, one persistent crisis often eludes the global spotlight: extreme hunger. In a bid to highlight the depth of the international hunger crisis, Delivery Rank has compiled all of the most important facts and statistics on world hunger in 2023.
World hunger has been a significant issue at least since records began. Over the last century, mankind has taken huge strides toward solving the crisis. But more needs to be done. The world produces enough food to feed all 8 billion inhabitants, yet millions of children still go to bed hungry every night.
This article will provide facts and stats on the state of hunger in some of the world’s most economically disadvantaged regions. We’ll cover the primary drivers of world hunger, the devastating impact of hunger on children, and effective strategies to tackle this issue. We'll explore what steps can be taken, both at an individual and systemic level, to counteract this ongoing, paramount humanitarian crisis.
Refers to the availability of food to populations or individuals, and how well people can access food that meets their preferences and dietary needs. If someone has adequate food security, they have enough safe and nutritious food to support an active and healthy lifestyle.
Pertains to an individual’s caloric intake. When someone consumes less than the amount of food they need to be healthy, they are considered undernourished.
Does not refer specifically to calories, but instead highlights an individual’s deficiencies in energy, protein, and/or essential vitamins and minerals.
Refers more generally to the issue of an unbalanced diet. Encompassed within malnutrition are undernutrition and overnutrition.
The most severe, and damaging, form of malnutrition. When someone is starving, their caloric intake is less than what is required to sustain life. Starvation over a prolonged time can cause irreparable damage to the individual’s body, potentially resulting in death. This is called inanition.
A severe scarcity of food across entire regions or populations resulting in widespread undernutrition and high mortality rates. It occurs due to significant disruptions in food production, distribution, and access, typically triggered by natural disasters, conflicts, or economic crises.
What Is Hunger?
When people talk about ‘hunger,’ they often refer to the feeling of ‘being hungry.’ However, when experts and aid organizations like the WHO talk about hunger, what they mean is a prolonged period in which people experience extreme food insecurity.
Vulnerable populations can go for days without eating due to a lack of money, access to food, or other resources. In this sense, hunger is in part defined by the distress associated with the lack of proper nutrition or access to food.
Hunger is a multifaceted problem that can be discussed both at an individual level and as it applies to larger populations. Each of the elements explained below could be used to describe the topic of hunger on its own, but it is probably best to think of ‘hunger’ as the combination of all of these terms.
|Goal 2: Zero Hunger|
|The Zero Hunger Challenge|
|Sustainability in every food system, from production to consumption.|
|2.||End poverty in rural areas, doubling the productivity and income of small-scale producers.|
|3.||Stop food loss and waste, through developing food systems.|
|4.||Access to an adequate supply of food for everyone, all year round.|
|5.||Put an end to malnutrition, in every sense of the word.|
By bringing together individuals, organizations, nations, and entities at every level, the Zero Hunger Challenge may bring an end to poverty and hunger.
The structure of the Zero Hunger Challenge encourages governments to share strategies and knowledge with each other and the community, and it also promotes regional cooperation.
Are We on Course to Achieve These Goals?
The goals set out by the Zero Hunger Challenge and the Sustainable Development Goals for Hunger are reliant on large-scale collaboration and funding.
However, based on IISD research, an increase of some $11 billion per year is needed between now and 2030 to reach the UN’s hunger goals. Estimates suggest $4 billion of this funding must come from donors, and $7 billion from low- and low-middle income nations themselves. This funding would generate an extra $5 billion of private investment each year until 2030.
Unfortunately, this increase is unlikely given the financial implications of Covid-19 and the current geopolitical climate.
Despite the goal of zero hunger, 670 million people are expected to still be facing hunger by 2030, accounting for 8% of the global population. Researchers project that the Covid-19 pandemic alone will be responsible for 78 million of these undernourished people. The figure was calculated by comparing the current projection to a scenario where the Covid-19 pandemic never happened.
Ongoing conflicts, a growing global population, and the intensifying presence of climate change further complicate meeting the goals set by the UN. That being said, those goals remain integral if we are to effectively fight world hunger.
World Food Program
The World Food Program (WFP) is one of the largest humanitarian organizations in the world. It is an entire branch of the United Nations, and it presides over the goal to end world hunger by 2030.
The program aims to combat inequality, climate change, and disaster risks while providing sustainability, nutrition, and support to people and smallholder farmers across the world. The WFP won a Nobel peace prize in 2020 for its continued work.
With more than 22,300 staff, the WFP operates in 120 countries and territories, focusing primarily on regions affected by war and conflict. It collaborates with 1,000+ non-governmental organizations (NGOs), working in partnership with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the International Fund for Agricultural Development.
In 2022, the WFP reached a record number of 158 million people through its humanitarian program. This was possible thanks to the support of donors, who contributed $14.2 billion in 2022 alone.
However, the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine have raised prices, impacting the operations of the WFP. The organization’s costs have increased by 44%, amounting to an extra $73.6 million per month for their operations.
Any Other Initiatives?
There are other large-scale initiatives and NGOs that are committed to ending world hunger.
The Hunger Project is a non-profit organization with operations in Africa, Asia, and Latin America. Like the WFP, it aims to end world hunger and promotes sustainability while also emphasizing women-centric strategies.
The World Bank is an international institution that provides loans and financial support to emerging enterprises across more than 189 countries. The project centers on two specific goals: to reduce the share of the global population that lives in extreme poverty to 3% by 2030 and to increase the incomes of the poorest 40% of people in each nation across the world.
Care, like other humanitarian projects, is a charitable organization that aims to end hunger while promoting equality and social justice. In 2022, 1,631 Care projects took effect in over 111 countries, directly aiding over 174 million people in the process.
What Can Nations Do?
Each country's adherence to the Sustainable Development Goals is a must when conducting aid operations in low- and low-middle income countries. Projects that meet these criteria have the best chance of creating lasting change in the fight against poverty and hunger.
That being said, there are a number of other ways nations can help in the fight against hunger as well. Donating to NGOs is one strategy. Many charitable organizations already have a huge global infrastructure, and donating money can help them broaden their reach. The United Nations regularly donates grants to NGOs, on the basis that they are well established within their field of expertise, and nations may look to adopt this approach within their own borders.
UNICEF is another organization doing great work in the fight against hunger. UNICEF is funded primarily by governments, though NGOs and private investors also support UNICEF’s projects. The organization primarily works to help children, as ending child poverty and hunger is one of its biggest goals.
There are also other ways for countries to be directly involved. For instance, the DAC brings together more than 20 nations in order to strategize an effective response to world hunger. The organization works as a committee and is funded by member states. The DAC then carries out aid operations across the world.
What Steps Can We Take in Our Own Lives?
There are practical, everyday steps we can take to combat world hunger. Minimizing our own food waste by repurposing leftovers is a simple yet significant action that we can all adopt.
Supporting local farmers' markets is another effective strategy. This not only benefits small-scale farmers but also promotes sustainable farming practices.
Volunteering your time in areas like food deliveries, fundraising, or awareness campaigns could be a rewarding way to contribute as well. Remember: alleviating hunger is not just about food provision but also about strengthening communities and fostering equality.
Reconsider your gift-giving habits, too. A donation certificate to a hunger- or poverty-fighting charity in lieu of a material gift extends the spirit of generosity to those who need it the most.
Lastly, when it comes to charitable contributions to shelters and food banks, consider donating money instead of physical food items. With economies of scale, these organizations can purchase much more food per dollar, ensure supplies match demand, and reduce waste.
In 2023, the magnitude of the world hunger crisis remains staggering. From disaster-stricken regions in Africa to impoverished areas in Asia and South America, poverty and hunger continue to plague the lives of countless individuals, posing a grave threat to their well-being.
This global epidemic knows no borders and seems to be only getting worse. Educating ourselves and raising awareness about the dire state of world hunger is the crucial first step toward fostering a unified and effective response.
By acknowledging the severity of the problem and embracing our role as global citizens, we can make a meaningful impact. Together, let us extend our compassion and support to those affected by hunger, working toward a future where no one has to endure the pain and suffering caused by the absence of basic sustenance.