News / Africa

UN Says Global Hunger Remains 'Unacceptably High'

Sabina Castelfranco

A report from the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization, or FAO, on Tuesday says global hunger has fallen this year but remains "unacceptably high."  The FAO estimates that there are 925 million undernourished people in the world this year, compared to a little more than a billion last year.  

The FAO and the United Nations World Food Program, or WFP, say that the number of hungry people in the world remains unacceptably high, despite expected recent gains that have pushed the figure below one billion.

The new estimate of the number of people who will suffer chronic hunger this year is 98 million fewer than in 2009.

FAO Director-General Jacques Diouf says that with a child dying every six seconds because of problems related to undernourishment, hunger remains the world's biggest tragedy and that it is unacceptable.

"The expected decline in world hunger in 2010 is primarily the result of better access to food as the global economy recovers and food prices remain below their peak level of mid-2008," said Jacques Diouf. "But let me clearly state that despite the expected decline, the achievement of the international hunger reduction target is at serious risk."

Diouf adds that if increases in food prices continue, they could hamper efforts to further reduce the number of the world's hungry.

Food prices have risen sharply recently, with the price of wheat hitting a two-year high last month after a severe drought and fires in Russia devastated crops there.  Higher wheat prices have also been tied to increased demand for relatively cheaper foodstuffs, particularly other grains.

WFP Executive Director Josette Sheeran says vigorous and urgent action by the international community has been effective in helping to control world hunger numbers.  But, she says, that this is no time to relax efforts to combat undernourished.   

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