Following the sharp rise in global hunger, which resulted from the food price crisis of 2007-08 and the economic downturn of 2009 and more recently the 2011 problem of high and volatile food prices that have driven an estimated 44 million people into abject poverty , it has become more urgently necessary to re-examine food security interventions world-wide. Commitments were taken in this direction in 2009 with the G8 Summit in L’Aquila, the reform of the Committee on World Food Security and the World Summit on Food Security. Actions are yet to follow at the pace and depth required.
The year 2010 saw a decline in the number of undernourished people in the world—the first in 15 years. This decline can be attributed largely to the more favourable economic environment, particularly in developing countries, and the fall, since 2008, in both international and domestic food prices. This was quickly eroded by the first quarter of 2011. Nevertheless, the current number of undernourished people in the world remains unacceptably high, at close to one billion; and the recent increase in food prices, should it persist, will present additional obstacles to the effort to further reduce hunger. Global food prices remain high, partly due to increasing fuel prices, and the World Bank’s Food Price Index is around its 2008 peak. Since June 2010, an additional 44 million people fell below the $1.25 poverty line as a result of higher food prices. Simulations show that a further 10% increase in the Food Price Index could lead to 10 million people falling into poverty, and a 30% increase could increase poverty by 34 million people.
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) estimates that the total number of undernourished people dropped to 925 million in 2010 from 1.023 billion in 2009. The World Bank estimates there are about 1.2 billion people living below the poverty line of US$1.25 a day. That total is still higher than before the food and economic crises of 2008-2009. It is also higher than the level that existed when world leaders agreed at the World Food Summit in 1996 to adopt the target of reducing the global number of hungry by one half. And so, while the 2010 figure certainly marks an improvement over that of 2009, it still fails to meet the target set by the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) 1 of halving the proportion of undernourished people in developing countries from 20 percent in 1990-92 to 10 percent in 2015.