Hunger in times of plenty

In order to lead an active and healthy life, we need an intake of at least 1,700-2,000 calories a day. At present, one sixth of the world’s population does not have access to this required amount. More people are hungry today than ever before. A large majority of these people - 70% - live in rural areas.

Although the value of calories harvested worldwide exceeds the total amount needed to feed everyone on earth by one third, people are still going hungry. This is because more and more grain is being used for animal feed, fuel and other industrial purposes, rather than for feeding people.

Hunger has many faces and many causes, but one thing is certain: Hunger can only be overcome locally. >>more

The World Map of Hunger

At the World Food Summit in 1996, heads of state vowed to reduce the number of people suffering from hunger to 415 million by 2015. However, since then, the number of people who are malnourished has increased. The hungry as a percentage of the world population has also increased ever since the price explosions on the world market in 2007/2008. Approximately 842 million people, 12% of the world’s population, are currently hungry.

Access to land, water, seed, fertiliser and tools is essential to the success of people living in rural areas. Minimal social safety structures, education and additional employment opportunities in rural areas also determine whether or not the human right to sufficient and nutritious food is fulfilled. Accordingly, in most African, Asian and Latin American countries hunger and poverty are essentially a question of regional self-sufficiency. A central message of the IAASTD report is that hunger is primarily a rural problem which can only be overcome locally in the long term.

Facts & Figures

According to the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the estimated total number of undernourished people in the world reached 842 million in the period 2011-13 - one in eight people. The vast majority of hungry people - 827 million of them - live in developing regions.

65% of the world’s 842 million hungry live in Asia and the Pacific, followed by sub-Saharan Africa, home to 26% (222 million people) of the world’s undernourished population, and Latin America and the Caribbean (6% or 47 million people). The highest prevalence of undernourishment was found in sub-Saharan Africa, where 25% of the total population were undernourished.

In 2013, 19 countries still had extremely alarming or alarming levels of hunger, most of them in sub- Saharan Africa and South Asia. The three countries with extremely alarming 2013 GHI scores are Burundi, Comoros, and Eritrea. For the Democratic Republic of Congo and other likely hunger hot spots such as Afghanistan and Somalia reliable data on undernourishment is lacking.

Agriculture produces a third more calories than are needed to feed the world population. Per capita food availability rose from about 2,220 calories per person per day in the early 1960s to 2,860 calories in 2011-13. Developing countries even recorded a leap from 1,850 calories per person per day to over 2,740 in the same period.

In 2013, world cereal production reached a record output of 2,518 million tonnes, up 9 percent from the previous year. Despite this record-breaking harvest, only 45% was used to feed people, 35% was used for animal feed and the remainder for other uses such as seed, industrial non-food and waste.

In 2012, approximately 6.6 million children worldwide - 18 000 children per day - died before reaching their fifth birthday. Pneumonia, diarrhoea and malaria together killed roughly 2.2 million children. Globally, about 45% of under-five deaths are linked to undernutrition. 


Civil Society

  • Farmlandgrab Food Crisis and the global land grab - news about the rush to buy up or lease farmlands
  • FIAN Human Rights Organisation advocating for the right to food
  • Food First US-based NGO with the mission to eliminate the injustices that cause hunger
  • Stop the Hunger
  • ActionAid UK-based NGO whose aim is to fight hunger worldwide through work with small-scale farmers


Videos: Hunger in Times of Plenty

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  • UNEP Food LostUNEP Food Lost
  • UNEP 4 409 watermdghungerUNEP 4 409 watermdghunger
  • UNEP Dietary Changes 1964-2030UNEP Dietary Changes 1964-2030


Unterstützer von biovision Verlag der Arbeitsgemeinschaft bäuerliche Landwirtschaft e.V. Demeter Greenpeace Forum Umwelt und Entwicklung Eine Welt Stiftung Die Grünen, Europäische Freie Allianz Evangelischer Entwicklungsdienst NABU - Naturschutzbund Deutschland e.V. Misereor Deutsche Gesellschaft für internationale Zusammenarbeit Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft in der GLS Treuhand Zukunftsstiftung Landwirtschaft in der GLS Treuhand
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