The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI 2014) confirmed a positive trend which has seen the number of hungry people decline globally by more than 100 million over the last decade and by 209 million since 1990-92. The report is published annually by the three UN institutions Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme (WFP).
The overall trend in hunger reduction in developing countries means that the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) of halving the proportion of undernourished people by 2015 is within reach, "if appropriate and immediate efforts are stepped up," the report says. To date, 63 developing countries have reached the MDG target, and six more are on track to reach it by 2015.
The authors of SOFI 2014 show how access to food has improved rapidly and significantly in countries that have experienced overall economic progress, notably in Eastern and South-Eastern Asia. Access to food has also improved in Southern Asia and Latin America, but mainly in countries with adequate safety nets and other forms of social protection including for the rural poor, notes the report SOFI 2014.
However, despite significant progress overall, several regions and sub-regions continue to lag behind warn the authors of the report and note that in sub-Saharan Africa, more than one in four people remain chronically undernourished, while Asia, the world's most populous region, is also home to the majority of the hungry - 526 million people.
According to the report, Latin America and the Caribbean have made the greatest overall strides in increasing food security. Meanwhile, Oceania has accomplished only a modest improvement (1.7 percent decline) in the prevalence of undernourishment, which stood at 14.0 percent in 2012-14, and has actually seen the number of its hungry increase since 1990-92.
The FAO, IFAD and WFP report specifies that hunger eradication requires establishing an enabling environment and an integrated approach. Such an approach includes public and private investments to increase agricultural productivity; access to land, services, technologies and markets; and measures to promote rural development and social protection for the most vulnerable, including strengthening their resilience to conflicts and natural disasters. The report also emphasises the importance of specific nutrition programmes, particularly to address micronutrient deficiencies of mothers and children under five.
This year's report includes seven case studies - Bolivia, Brazil, Haiti, Indonesia, Madagascar, Malawi and Yemen - that highlight some of the ways that countries tackle hunger and how external events may influence their capacity to deliver on achieving food security and nutrition objectives. The countries were chosen because of their political, economic diversities - particularly in the agricultural sector -, and cultural differences.