Drop in number of hungry people is more due to luck than good policy

Published: 14th September 2010

New Oxfam report shows halving world hunger by 2015 is still possible

The world can halve global hunger within five years says a new Oxfam report launched today. The launch of "Halving World Hunger: Still Possible?" coincides with an announcement by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) that the number of hungry people worldwide has dropped by 98 million to 925 million in the past year.

Oxfam welcomes the news that the number of hungry people has declined for the first time in 15 years – down from a record high of 1.02 billion in 2009. However it warns that the decline is largely down to luck – including two years of good harvests which had, until recently, led to a fall in global food prices – and not the policies and increased investment which are needed to address the underlying causes of hunger.

"Any reduction in the number of hungry people is welcome but the food crisis has not gone away. 925 million hungry people is still a scandal." said Oxfam International Executive Director Jeremy Hobbs.

"The dip in the number of hungry people has more to do with luck then judgement. Another global food crisis could explode at any time unless governments tackle the underlying causes of hunger, including food price volatility, decades of under investment in agriculture, and climate change," added Hobbs.

In less than a week world leaders will meet in New York to review progress on the Millennium Development Goals including the goal to halve world hunger by 2015 (MDG 1). In the ten years since the MDGs were agreed, the proportion of hungry people in the world has only decreased by just half a percent – from 14 percent in 2000 to 13.5 per cent today.

Oxfam's new report, "Halving World Hunger: Still Possible?" points to countries such as Vietnam that have achieved or are on track to achieve MDG 1 as evidence that halving world hunger is still possible. These countries have dramatically reduced hunger at home by supporting poor food producers and providing social safety nets for people who cannot produce or buy enough food.

Oxfam calls on world leaders, meeting in New York from 20-22 September, to back the development of a global action plan on hunger as part of a broader MDG rescue package. The action plan should:

  • Support the development of national plans to reduce hunger;
  • Ensure these plans are properly funded through increased international aid and national investment; and
  • Develop the global policies needed to address global threats to food security.

"It's been ten years since world leaders vowed to halve global hunger by 2015 but we are no closer towards achieving this goal. We know it is possible. We have the recipe for doing it. The only missing ingredient is the political will. When world leaders get together in New York they must put their weight behind a global action plan that will bring all countries together to tackle hunger," said Hobbs.

"Tackling hunger must be part of a broader MDG package. We cannot ask a mother to decide between feeding and educating her child. We cannot afford to miss a single Millennium Development Goal," said Hobbs.

Read more

Download the report: Halving Hunger: Still Possible? Building a rescue package to set the MDGs back on track

The Millennium Development Goals

925 million hungry people is still a scandal.
Jeremy Hobbs
Executive Director of Oxfam International

Contact information

For more information or to arrange an interview contact:

Anna Mitchell in the UK on: +44 1865 339 157 or +44 7796 993 288