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Seventy-two countries achieve the MDG target to halve proportion of hungry people

Photo: ©FAO

FAO's Plenary Hall where the hunger awards ceremony took place.

7 June 2015, Rome - An international awards ceremony today recognized the great effort made by countries around the world which has led to the near achievement of the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to halve the proportion of hungry people by a 2015 deadline, or bringing it below the 5 percent threshold.

A majority - 72 out of 129 - of the countries monitored by FAO have achieved the MDG target, with developing regions as a whole missing it by a small margin. Out of the total 72 countries, 29 have also met the more stringent goal to halve the number of hungry people as laid out by governments when they met in Rome at the World Food Summit (WFS) in 1996.

And another 12 of the total 72 countries have maintained their hunger rates below 5 percent dating back to at least 1990.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva paid tribute to these achievements at the ceremony which was held at the Organization's headquarters.

"Since 1990, 216 million people have been freed from hunger," he said.

He noted however that almost 800 million people still suffer from chronic undernourishment. FAO defines this as a state of dietary energy deprivation lasting over one year.

Graziano da Silva urged for a redoubling of global efforts to combat chronic undernourishment.

"One out of nine people on the planet still do not have enough food to conduct active, healthy and productive lives. It is not acceptable," he said.

The year 2015 marks the completion of the monitoring period for the Millennium Development Goals which will be replaced by the Sustainable Development Goals currently being negotiated by the international community.

The Sustainable Development Goals will forge a global commitment that goes beyond the reduction of hunger seeking instead to totally eradicate it, the FAO Director-General said.

"If we all do our part, zero hunger can be achieved within our lifetimes. Together we can make this vision a reality," he said.

Latest countries to make progress receive awards

At today's ceremony Bolivia (Plurinational State of), Costa Rica, Laos (Lao People's Democratic Republic), Mozambique, Nepal, Solomon Islands, Suriname and Uzbekistan received an award for having reached the MDG target. They joined other countries who were awarded for reaching the target in previous years.

Angola, China, Dominican Republic, Gabon, Mali and Myanmar were awarded for having also achieved the more ambitious WFS.

The Prime Minister of Gabon, Daniel Ona Ondo, and the Vice Premier of China, Wang Yang, received diplomas on behalf of their countries at today's ceremony.

Other dignitaries in attendance included: President of Mali, Ibrahim Boubacar Keïta, Prime Minister of Djiboutim, Abdoulkader Kamil Mohamed, Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn Boshe, Prime Minister of Fiji, Josaia Voreqe Bainimarama, Prime Minister of Niger, Brigi Rafini, Prime Minister of Saint Vincent and the Grenadines, Ralph Everard Gonsalves, and Prime Minister of Tunisia, Habib Essid.

Moving from the reduction of hunger to its eradication

The UN State of Food Insecurity in the World 2015 (SOFI 2015) report released last month noted that countries that have made progress in fighting hunger have enjoyed stable political conditions promoted inclusive economic growth and the development of agriculture, fisheries and forestry.

Many also had policies in place aimed at promoting and protecting access to food.

Social protection - a key factor

The report noted how enhancing the productivity of small-scale family farmers -- including women and young people -- and strengthening social protection mechanisms are key factors for promoting inclusive growth, along with well-functioning markets.

In contrast, conflict, political instability or natural disasters - including those stemming from climate change - often result in protracted crises that add to vulnerability and food insecurity, the report said.

Strong political commitment, respect for basic human rights and the integration of humanitarian and development assistance are necessary to address such crises, it stressed.