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 UndernourishmentEach 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 UndernourishmentUltimately, 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.
Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry access Noun
ability to use.
to provide or satisfy.
agricultural development Noun
modern farming methods that include mechanical, chemical, engineering and technological methods. Also called industrial agriculture.
to relieve, unburden, or make easier.
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.
recurring or happening frequently.
civil war Noun
conflict between groups in the same country or nation.
full, wide-ranging, or inclusive.
geographic territory with a distinct name, flag, population, boundaries, and government.
person responsible for an offense or fault.
data Plural Noun
(singular: datum) information collected during a scientific study.
to become smaller or less important.
forced removal of something, often people or organisms, from their communities or original space.
the way something is spread out over an area.
Encyclopedic Entry: distribution durable Adjective
strong and long-lasting.
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.
weariness or exhaustion.
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.
system or order of a nation, state, or other political unit.
having a desire or need for food or nutrition.
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.
wages, salary, or amount of money earned.
structures and facilities necessary for the functioning of a society, such as roads.
to set one thing or organism apart from others.
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.
to supply, usually with food, or strengthen.
to consistently bother, torment, or annoy.
having to do with public policy, government, administration, or elected office.
total number of people or organisms in a particular area.
to destroy or ruin.
to lower or lessen.
any area on Earth with one or more common characteristics. Regions are the basic units of geography.
Encyclopedic Entry: region relentless Adjective
scientific observations and investigation into a subject, usually following the scientific method: observation, hypothesis, prediction, experimentation, analysis, and conclusion.
having to do with country life, or areas with few residents.
to guarantee, or make safe and certain.
sub-Saharan Africa Noun
geographic region located south of the Sahara Desert in Africa.
to go beyond a set limit.
final or maximum.
hungry, or not having enough nutrients to function normally.
exactly the same in some way.
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.