World Food Day 2017: Five questions and answers on hunger

Oct 17, 2017

Dramatic situation in war zones, such as here in Syria Enlarge image (© WFP)

On 16 October of every year, the United Nations observes World Food Day – thus spotlighting the millions of people around the world suffering from hunger. The Federal Foreign Office is working to help these people and is fighting hunger worldwide. Five questions and answers on this issue:

How many people around the world are suffering from hunger?

The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that some 815 million people around the world are affected by hunger. That is 38 million more than in 2015. After the number of those affected had fallen over a period of ten years – from 947 million in 2003 to 775 million in 2014 – the number began to rise significantly once more. At the same time, the Global Hunger Index fell by 27 percent compared to 2000. That means that more people in fewer countries are suffering from hunger.

Which countries have been hit especially hard?

The situation is dramatic in the “four hunger crises” in South Sudan, Somalia, north‑eastern Nigeria and Yemen. According to the current Global Hunger Index, the situation in 51 countries is “serious” or “alarming”. In one country, it is even “extremely alarming”. African countries have been hit hardest: the Central African Republic, Chad, Sierra Leone, Madagascar and Zambia are top of this sad list. In some cases, there are considerable differences within countries.

Who compiles these figures?

The Welthungerhilfe publishes the Global Hunger Index every year, based on United Nations data. The 2017 Index analyses a total of 119 countries. Economically strong countries such as Germany, or countries where insufficient data is available, for instance Congo, South Sudan or Syria, are not included.

Distributing food packages in Lebanon Enlarge image (© Rouven Brunnert/DRK ) At what point do we speak of famine?

The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification System is internationally recognised. A differentiation is made among five phases based on factors such as food prices, harvest yields, average income and the food required by households. Phase 5 – famine – has been reached when 20 percent of households are affected by food insecurity, 30 percent of the population is severely malnourished and two out of every 10,000 people die each day due to malnourishment.

What is the Federal Foreign Office doing?

In the long term, hunger has a dramatic impact on society as a whole – in terms of health, the economy and social structures. Food aid is therefore a key component of German humanitarian assistance. In 2016, the Federal Foreign Office provided some 553 million euros to projects that address hunger and malnutrition. So far in 2017, this figure already amounts to 633 million euros. Germany’s engagement helps people in acute and protracted crises. No‑one should be suffering from hunger – Germany has been working to achieve that for many years.

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Last updated 16.10.2017

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