While hunger rates have declined across the world, some 33 million people in the Near East and North Africa (NENA) are chronically hungry today. That is double the number reported for the region in 1990. These figures are being reported by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). The troubling trend is driven by conflict and protracted crises in Iraq, Sudan, Syria and Yemen, as well as the West Bank and the Gaza Strip.
Current estimates indicate that the crisis in Syria has left about 13.6 million people in critical need of food and agricultural assistance. In Yemen, one in four residents experiences hunger; half of its 24 million citizens have required some sort of humanitarian assistance in the last several months. In Iraq, which had a hunger rate of about 8% in the early 1990s, the rate of hunger has risen to an astonishing 23 percent.
The data was pulled from the latest edition of the annual hunger report – The State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 – also called SOFI. The good news? The prevalence of worldwide hunger has declined. But while the number of food insecure people in the world has dropped to 795 million, one in every nine people still goes hungry.
SOFI is published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the World Food Programme.
“The overall picture should not overshadow progresses made by the large majority of countries. We should commend the 15 countries in the region that have achieved the Millennium Development Goal hunger target of halving the proportion of people suffering from undernourishment or keeping it below 5 percent. These include: Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi-Arabia, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates,” [Abdessalam] Ould Ahmed added.
“As we move beyond the MDGs and toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), sustainably managing the scarce water resources and investing in social protection – more specifically, finding ways to lessen vulnerability through social and productive safety net programs and policies with respect to food and nutritional security – are critical to address the multiple threats and risks to food security and nutrition and to build resilience in the NENA region,” said Ould Ahmed.
To hear an audio interview with FAO Assistant Director General Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, click here.