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UN reports reduction in world hunger

Indian schoolchildren eat a free mid-day meal at a government school in Allahabad, India. Associated Press/Photo by Rajesh Kumar Singh

UN reports reduction in world hunger

UN food agencies say statistics from a recent report bode well for hunger eradication. But other relief organizations say the problem runs deeper than the numbers indicate.

The UN’s 2015 State of Food Insecurity report revealed the number of the world’s hungry dropped from more than 1 billion to 795 million in the past quarter-century. The number dropped by 216 million, despite a population increase of nearly 2 billion.

The three UN agencies reported 72 out of 129 monitored countries halved chronic undernourishment, meeting the agency’s Millennium Development Goals.

“The near-achievement of the MDG hunger targets show us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime,” said Jose Graziano da Silva, chief of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

The reduction in hunger occurred despite the natural disasters, conflicts and, political instability of the past 25 years.

But Samaritan’s Purse, an international Christian relief agency, responded to many of those natural disasters, and its teams witnessed firsthand how natural disasters and conflicts affect hunger reduction, said Chris Toews, deputy director for international projects.

Situations like the Nepal earthquake or the conflict in South Sudan “immediately disrupt all the progress that’s been made,” Toews said.

Though encouraged by the UN report, Toews said the global numbers aren’t as encouraging in places where disasters are more prevalent, and much work still remains to be done.

Agricultural investments, political stability, social protection measures, and economic growth inclusive to the poor played large roles in hunger reduction, the UN reported.

Hunger Relief International, a Christian relief and development agency started in 2010, partners with Haitian and Guatemalan communities to find solutions for hunger reduction.

In Haiti, the organization provides food to 26 orphanages, only purchasing food from local farmers. Initiatives in Guatemala include school feeding programs, to encourage school attendance, organic home gardens, and supplemental feeding for babies.

But it’s about more than the amount of food provided, said executive director Rachel Zelon.

“Maybe bellies are full, but are they getting nutritious food?” she asked.

Zelon said fortified foods, clean water, decent sanitation, and deworming form the full package for healthiness that leads to improved lives.

She does believe hunger eradication is possible, though.

“This is an engaged generation,” she said. “They want to be a part of the solution.”

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Heather Bridges Heather Bridges is a World Journalism Institute student

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