The UN food agency reported Tuesday that 18 million more people face hunger around the world.
NEW YORK – World hunger is "on the rise," says the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization. Or is it?
"After reducing the number of hungry people in developing countries by 37 million during the first half of the 1990s, that number increased by 18 million in the second half of the decade," the FAO announced Tuesday.
The setback was not uniform around the world, however, resulting in an overall figure that obscures areas of progress.
For instance, exempting the 30 million that India and the Democratic Republic of Congo added to the rolls of the malnourished, hunger actually continued its decade-long descent by another 12 million.
While some countries slid backward - especially those hit by war, economic crisis, drought, or HIV/AIDS - others have made the reforms to spur economic growth, like investment in agriculture and rural infrastructure, or instituted supplemental feeding programs that helped hoist millions from the ranks of the undernourished, says Mr. de Haen.
Still, it hasn't happened as quickly as many had hoped.
At the 1996 World Food Summit in Rome, representatives of 179 nations vowed to halve the world's hungry by the year 2015. The FAO puts the number at 842 million, or 15 percent of the global population. This includes 798 million in developing countries, 34 million in countries "in transition," and 10 million in the industrialized countries. Overall, two-thirds of the hungry live in rural areas and are dependent on agriculture.
Yet for some, the situation is worsening - especially countries with large populations like Indonesia, Pakistan, and Sudan. Sub-Saharan Africa and Ethiopia remain the most chronically underfed regions.
In impoverished Malawi, for example, activists say the practice of families bartering off young daughters to older men in exchange for money to buy food has once again resurfaced over the past two years.
And in hermetic North Korea, stories of people relegated to eating twigs and bark have now been replaced by reports of sporadic cannibalism
War has left three million Congolese dead and millions more starving, while conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan have swelled their ranks of malnourished, says de Haen.
Meanwhile, Latin America and the Caribbean were the world's only two regions to reduce their hungry, overall, throughout the 1990s. And China, experiencing an economic boom, led a group of 19 countries that saw a decline in hunger throughout the past decade.
The hungry generally break down into two groups, say observers: the mildly to moderately malnourished, and the severely malnourished.饥饿状态大体分两种：一种是中等的营养不良状态，还一种就是严重的营养不良。