The United Nations said Tuesday that its 2009 report that 1 billion people were going hungry was not correct because some of its methodologies were flawed, putting the number of people who are hungry at 870 million.
The U.N. said in a report that one in eight, or 12.5 percent, of the world’s population are undernourished, which represents a steady decline over the past two decades, from 18.6 percent. Between 1990 and 2007, the number of those who went hungry actually decreased more than previously thought.
The new measurement, the report said, shows that there were just over 1 billion people who went hungry in 1990. This means in the past 22 years, the number dropped by 130 million.
However, in the past five years, the overall progress against global hunger has slowed down and leveled off.
Updated information on countries’ food supplies, food losses, dietary requirements, populations, and other factors contributed to the more accurate metrics, the U.N. said.
But the heads of several U.N. food and agriculture agencies said that “in today’s world of unprecedented technical and economic opportunities, we find it entirely unacceptable that more than 100 million children under five are underweight, and therefore unable to realize their full human and socio-economic potential,” according to a statement. The U.N. officials said that more than 2.5 million children die each year due to malnutrition.
They added that recovery in the recent global financial meltdown “remains fragile” and underscored that hundreds of millions of people are going hungry.
“We nonetheless appeal to the international community to make extra efforts to assist the poorest in realizing their basic human right to adequate food. The world has the knowledge and the means to eliminate all forms of food insecurity and malnutrition,” the statement reads.
The vast majority of hungry people, or 852 million, live in developing Asian and African countries. In the Asia-Pacific region, the number of malnourished declined nearly 30 percent in two decades, but African countries saw an increase of people who go hungry from 175 million to 239 million in the same time frame, the U.N. said.
Referring to the U.N.’s figures, Luca Chinotti of the aid agency Oxfam said in a statement that “the fact that almost 870 million people—more than the population of the U.S., Europe and Canada—are hungry in a world which produces enough for everyone to eat is the biggest scandal of our time.”
Chinotti called on world governments to come up with a better approach to managing food and natural resources.
“Political inaction means high and volatile food prices, lack of investment in agriculture, gender inequality, land grabs, and climate change are in danger of reversing past gains in the fight against hunger,” he said.
Over the past several months, food prices have risen around the world due to drought in crop-producing states in the United States, Russia, and in other countries.
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