Rapid economic growth and increased agricultural productivity over the past two decades have seen the number of undernourished people drop by almost half. Many developing countries that used to suffer from famine and hunger can now meet the nutritional needs of the most vulnerable. Central and East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have all made huge progress in eradicating extreme hunger.
These are all huge achievements in line with the targets set out by the first Millennium Development Goals. Unfortunately, extreme hunger and malnutrition remain a huge barrier to development in many countries. 795 million people are estimated to be chronically undernourished as of 2014, often as a direct consequence of environmental degradation, drought and loss of biodiversity. Over 90 million children under the age of five are dangerously underweight. And one person in every four still goes hungry in Africa.
With rapid population growth in the Arab region —crossing the threshold of 400 million in 2016— a predominantly harsh arid environment, and many protracted conflicts, food insecurity has become a major challenge for many Arab countries.
Despite an increase in the average Food Production Index from 82.6 in 2000 to 118.8 in 2013, several Arab countries continue to face serious problems in agriculture production, due to limited economic resources, low technology levels, limited crop patterns and environmental limitations. In the United Arab Emirates and Syria, the Food Production Index reached 68.2 and 82.4 in 2013, respectively.
The SDGs aim to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030, making sure all people – especially children – have access to sufficient and nutritious food all year round. This involves promoting sustainable agricultural practices: supporting small scale farmers and allowing equal access to land, technology and markets. It also requires international cooperation to ensure investment in infrastructure and technology to improve agricultural productivity. Together with the other goals set out here, we can end hunger by 2030.
Goals in action
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Hajj Ahmad Sayed, 61 years old, was one of hundreds of farmers who benefited from the distribution of fertilizer and seeds, which was implemented by UNDP in late 2012 in northern governorate of Sa’ada, Yemen.MORE >