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  • People shouldn’t go hungry.
    Not because of someone’s hopeful wish, but because the world produces enough calories to go around. Each day, farmers grow 2,800 calories per person on the planet, according to the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). That’s enough to surpass the recommended intake of 2,100 daily calories per person—and enough to support a population inching toward nine billion, and then ten billion.
    So why do 805 million people still have too little to eat? To start with, it’s important to understand the difference between hunger and undernourishment.
    People all over the world go hungry, even for just a few hours, when they don’t have enough to eat. Hunger is a physical condition marked by stomach pangs and general fatigue.
    Undernourishment is a more chronic condition than hunger. Undernourishment affects communities, and even entire countries and regions.
    Measuring Undernourishment
    Each year, the FAO measures undernourishment around the world.
    “What we try to do is come up with a comprehensive picture of food insecurity,” says FAO economist Josef Schmidhuber.
    The process is never simple. In countries most at need, development agencies find it hard to get food in and data out. Food often doesn’t get to the people who need it. Some of these people are isolated in rural communities, while others live in politically unstable countries or areas ravaged by natural disasters.
    Africa has the highest rate of undernourishment. In the Central African Republic, where 38 percent of people are undernourished, an ongoing civil war has led to widespread displacement, which leads to disruptions in the food supply and distribution. The culprit in Zambia (48 percent undernourished) is infrastructure: Less than 20 percent of the population has access to a durable road.
    Asia has the most undernourished people. According to FAO researchers, parts of Africa and Asia are plagued by a lack of income, poor agricultural development and few social safety nets. North Korea may be the best example of a country with a political climate that limits trade and food aid.
    No country has it worse than Haiti, however. Even though the Western Hemisphere has almost uniformly reduced undernourishment over the past 20 years, the island nation has been relentlessly attacked by natural hazards and political instability. An earthquake in 2010, followed by several hurricanes in 2012 and a drought in 2014 have limited Haiti’s capacity to nourish its population.
    There is some good news: Since 1990, the overall number of undernourished people around the world has gone down—that means 209 million fewer undernourished people.
    Solving World Undernourishment
    Ultimately, solving world undernourishment comes with diminishing returns. The more progress you make, the more challenging the remaining work becomes.
    As places like sub-Saharan Africa increase their production of food staples, they then need to focus on distributing it to the people who need it most. Many regions lack infrastructure such as roads and bridges that can accommodate trucks carrying food.
    So, someone looking to alleviate world hunger doesn’t only need to focus on food, but on building roads and more secure buildings. Stable governments can help ensure fewer people go hungry. And when a country’s economy grows, almost everyone is better off. 
    The Paradox of Undernourishment
    Undernourishment is largely concentrated in the developing world—mostly Africa and southern Asia.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    access Noun

    ability to use.

    accommodate Verb

    to provide or satisfy.

    agricultural development Noun

    modern farming methods that include mechanical, chemical, engineering and technological methods. Also called industrial agriculture.

    alleviate Verb

    to relieve, unburden, or make easier.

    calorie Noun

    unit of energy from food, equal to the amount of heat required to raise the temperature of one kilogram of water by one degree Celsius.

    capacity Noun


    chronic Adjective

    recurring or happening frequently.

    civil war Noun

    conflict between groups in the same country or nation.

    comprehensive Adjective

    full, wide-ranging, or inclusive.

    country Noun

    geographic territory with a distinct name, flag, population, boundaries, and government.

    culprit Noun

    person responsible for an offense or fault.

    data Plural Noun

    (singular: datum) information collected during a scientific study.

    diminish Verb

    to become smaller or less important.

    displacement Noun

    forced removal of something, often people or organisms, from their communities or original space.

    disrupt Verb

    to interrupt.

    distribution Noun

    the way something is spread out over an area.

    Encyclopedic Entry: distribution
    durable Adjective

    strong and long-lasting.

    earthquake Noun

    the sudden shaking of Earth's crust caused by the release of energy along fault lines or from volcanic activity.

    economist Noun person who studies financial patterns and the creation, buying, and selling of goods and services
    economy Noun

    system of production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services.

    ensure Verb

    to guarantee.

    fatigue Noun

    weariness or exhaustion.

    food Noun

    material, usually of plant or animal origin, that living organisms use to obtain nutrients.

    Encyclopedic Entry: food
    food aid Noun

    money or food given to regions faced with malnutrition and starvation.

    Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Noun

    United Nations agency responsible for improving food production in developing countries.

    food staple Noun

    food that can be prepared, stored, and eaten throughout the year.

    government Noun

    system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.

    hungry Adjective

    having a desire or need for food or nutrition.

    hurricane Noun

    tropical storm with wind speeds of at least 119 kilometers (74 miles) per hour. Hurricanes are the same thing as typhoons, but usually located in the Atlantic Ocean region.

    income Noun

    wages, salary, or amount of money earned.

    infrastructure Noun

    structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.

    isolate Verb

    to set one thing or organism apart from others.

    nation Noun

    political unit made of people who share a common territory.

    Encyclopedic Entry: nation
    natural disaster Noun

    an event occurring naturally that has large-scale effects on the environment and people, such as a volcano, earthquake, or hurricane.

    natural hazard Noun

    event in the physical environment that is destructive to human activity.

    nourish Verb

    to supply, usually with food, or strengthen.

    plague Verb

    to consistently bother, torment, or annoy.

    political Adjective

    having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.

    population Noun

    total number of people or organisms in a particular area.

    progress Noun

    forward movement.

    ravage Verb

    to destroy or ruin.

    reduce Verb

    to lower or lessen.

    region Noun

    any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.

    Encyclopedic Entry: region
    relentless Adjective


    research Noun

    scientific observations and investigation into a subject, usually following the scientific method: observation, hypothesis, prediction, experimentation, analysis, and conclusion.

    rural Adjective

    having to do with country life, or areas with few residents.

    secure Verb

    to guarantee, or make safe and certain.

    sub-Saharan Africa Noun

    geographic region located south of the Sahara Desert in Africa.

    surpass Verb

    to go beyond a set limit.

    ultimate Adjective

    final or maximum.

    undernourished Adjective

    hungry, or not having enough nutrients to function normally.

    uniform Adjective

    exactly the same in some way.

    unstable Adjective

    unsteady or likely to fall apart.

    Western Hemisphere Noun

    area of the Earth west of the prime meridian and east of the International Date Line.