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Confounding expectations, global hunger is down (+video)

Despite sustained drought and population growth, global hunger has decreased over the past two decades. Food aid is smarter and 'host' governments are focusing more on local farmers.

Numbers of global hungry down but fight slowing: UN
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After famine in Somalia, extreme hunger in Sudan, and increased concern about global food security in recent years, it might have seemed inevitable that world hunger would rise. In 2009, world food experts told us it would.

But here’s some surprising good news: Despite sustained drought across some of the world’s bread baskets, despite the widespread impact of global warming and a destabilizing rise in global food prices – and despite continuing population growth – hunger has decreased over the past two decades.

What’s more, the tools and conditions exist to continue the downward trend of hunger and to reduce the number – still in the hundreds of millions – of people who go without enough to eat every day, international experts say.

“We need to continue to do even better, but the smarter and more integrated approaches we’ve adopted in recent years to address hunger have put us on a good trajectory,” says Rick Leach, president of World Food Program USA. “The fact is, hunger is a solvable problem, and it’s in the interest of all of us to solve it.”

The number of the world’s people living with hunger has dropped by 132 million, or from nearly 19 percent of the world’s population in the early 1990s to 12.5 percent last year, a new report by the World Food Program and the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization finds.

The decline is a bright spot for people in some of the world’s least developed countries, and also suggests that a goal set by world leaders in 2000 to cut extreme hunger in half by 2015 – one of a set of much-trumpeted Millennium Development Goals, or MDGs – can still be met.

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