The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), which hosted the 1996 World Food Summit where nations set the target, said there were still 854 million undernourished people, and that one in three people in sub-Saharan Africa lived in chronic hunger.
“I am deeply sorry to report that the situation remains intolerable and unacceptable, and more so because 10 years have passed,” Jacques Diouf, the FAO Director-General, told a news conference.
At the summit, leaders said they would halve the number of underfed people between 1990 and 2015. At the halfway point, the latest figures showed a mere three million reduction, not enough to be statistically relevant, FAO said.
Diouf said if the rate of decline seen since 1990 continued, the food summit target could not be met until 2150.
Recent trends actually point to a rise in the number of hungry, he said.
“Far from decreasing, the number of hungry people in the world is currently increasing – at the rate of four million a year”
“Far from decreasing, the number of hungry people in the world is currently increasing – at the rate of four million a year,” he said.
In the first half of the 1990s the number of hungry people dropped globally by 26 million, but rose again in the second half. The negligible cut in the number of hungry people in the developing world in the 1990s compared with cuts of 37 million in the 1970s and 100 million in the 1980s.
Although the total number of hungry people has not fallen, they represent a declining proportion of the growing global population, and the world should meet the UN Millennium Development Goal of halving the percentage of hungry people in the total population by 2015, the report forecast.
By 2015, 10.1 per cent of the developing world’s population will be hungry, compared with 20.3 per cent in 1990-92.
But stark differences in development in various regions mean the proportion of the populations of Africa and the Near East who go hungry will not be cut at the same rate.
By 2015, sub-Saharan Africa will contain 30 per cent of the world’s hungry, up from 20 per cent in 1990, the FAO said.
Despite the lack of progress so far toward the food summit goal, the FAO said the target could still be met by improving agriculture in the developing world.
“Is the 2015 WFS target still attainable? The answer should be a resounding ‘yes’,” Diouf said.