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Most of the world’s hungry now live in middle-income countries. More than 75% of the world’s hungry, 78% of stunted children, and 64% of the extreme poor live in middle-income countries. “The level of severe food insecurity is almost three times higher in countries with high-income inequality compared with countries with low-income inequality,” says a recent Devex report.

After decades of improvement, the number of people who suffer from hunger is again slowly increasing. More than 821 million people were hungry in 2018, compare to 785.4 million in 2015. Food insecurity has been on the rise globally but has increased the most in Africa and Latin America.

The Devex article interviews Cindy Holleman, senior economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization and Arif Husain, chief economist at the World Food Programme. Their report shows that hunger is not just limited to people who regularly go without enough food. An increasing number of people experience moderate levels of food insecurity — meaning they face uncertainty about their ability to obtain food or may need to choose between the quality or quantity of food.

This reclassification significantly expands the scope of the problem. Over 2 billion people do not have regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food, according to the report.
“It means people may have access to food, however, they can be uncertain of whether their food can last, if they are going to run out, and they usually are forced to reduce the quality or the quantity of their food,” Holleman explained.

The cheapest foods are the most unhealthy. We need to correct that,” Holleman said. “We need to transform our agriculture and food system to provide nutritious foods, quality foods at a reasonable cost. So it does mean a transformation in terms of looking carefully at our food systems.”

Conflict and climate change are clear drivers of hunger, but “We cannot just talk about climate and conflict. That is too simple. It is economic,” Holleman said. “We need to change our concept of hunger: It is not just in the very poor countries. It is middle-income countries. And this is the most shocking to me, because these are the countries that are performing well, in terms of overall development,” Holleman said, noting that this requires governments to put in place policies and reforms with the priority of addressing hunger and malnutrition.

Read the full article here.

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