One in nine people worldwide lack the basic necessities of food and clean water. According to the World Food Programme, hunger poses more of a health risk than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, but unlike these conditions, the cure for world hunger is tangible and within reach. Here are the 10 most undernourished countries in the world, along with some ways you can help feed them.
The 10 Hungriest Countries in the World and How You Can Help Them (Slideshow)
The Global Hunger Index (GHI), which is calculated every year by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), lists the state of hunger in these 10 countries as “alarming” (20-29.9) or “extremely alarming” (greater than or equivalent to 30). The study focuses on the lack of micronutrients (zinc, folate, iron, vitamins), and the numbers are based on the proportion of the undernourished as a percentage of the population, as well as the prevalence of child mortality and underweight children under the age of five.
To find the organizations we vouch for, we focused on groups aiming to implement long-term solutions to improve food shortages and prepare for environmental disasters or drought. For example, in Zambia, the Irish charity Gorta is working to set up local beekeeping and fish farming industries. However, some of these nations are in the midst of ongoing political struggle and need immediate aid. All of the organizations we recommend have been scanned and verified as legitimate charities.
While the countries on this list are ranked according to their GHI, we want to stress that there is no hierarchy when it comes to world hunger. All undernourished people need help, even the ones in developed countries. It’s also important to note that natural disasters, such as the recent earthquake in Nepal, can make the need for food donations extra critical and time sensitive; find out how to donate to that effort here. Most of all, we want to stress the importance of not getting pessimistic about ending world hunger. It is an achievable goal. According to the Food Policy Research Institute, the state of hunger in developing countries has fallen 39 percent since 1990.
We still have a long way to go, but this is a good place to start. It may not be the season of giving, but doing good in the world shouldn’t be restricted by season.
Years of political instability and a powerful earthquake whose effects are still present have left Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, one of the hungriest countries in the world — two thirds of the juvenile population suffer from malnutrition. Most of the money from musician Wyclef Jean’s much-publicized charity, which collected millions of dollars for the island nation, went into administrative costs and did little to nothing to help. To make a difference, donate to Food for the Poor, which, according to its website, began its work in Haiti in 1986 and has since built 11,000 homes and installed 373 water wells.
Zambia, a landlocked nation bordering Angola and Zimbabwe, rates 23.2 on the Global Hunger Index, despite being more politically stable than many other developing countries. While Zambia exports hundreds of tons of high-quality maize to Europe — so high-quality that the government denied genetically modified food donations from the United States in 2002 for fear that it would contaminate their exports — malnourishment rates stay high. To help, donate to the Irish charity Gorta, which works to improve food and water safety and set up agricultural systems like beekeeping, fish farming, and watershed management; their goal is to help Zambia become self-sustaining.
10 Ways to Stop World Hunger
What are the ways to stop world hunger? Work tirelessly for an international organization? Donate old clothes and toys to our local Salvation Army? Or is it even possible? There are hundreds of theories on how we can end world hunger and activists debate many of them. Some have been effective and others not. One thing is certain, and that is that we must do something. Discussed below are 10 effective world hunger solutions.
Top 10 World Hunger Solutions
1. Sustainable Food
Heifer International is an organization that helps transform agriculture. They fund projects so people can provide food for themselves in a sustainable way. This is very powerful, because ultimately we would like to see many impoverished areas not reliant on aid from foreign countries (which often causes debt) and able to create their own, steady, supply of food.
2. Access to Credit
Many organizations are helping people in poor countries to gain access to credit. Most of these credit loans are repaid, and they have created many industries, such as farms, that help create a sustainable provision for people and also develop nations economically. If these people do not have access to credit, they cannot start up industries that combat poverty.
3. Food Donations
Although ideally it would be better to get the entire world to a place of self-sustainability, it is not something that will happen overnight. In the meantime it is important to lend a helping hand. The impact of donations, both cash and food, have had an immense impact on world hunger. Organizations such as Food for All have customers donate $1-5 when checking out. Last year they raised a whopping $60 million to fight world hunger.
Many families dealing with poverty need help transitioning into a state of self-dependance. 15 Feeds Family is an organization that helps with this transition. They start by providing families with food, but then slowly find solutions to empower families to be self-sufficient. This is important, because self-sufficiency allows for a certain food income, when relying on donations does not always guarantee food.
5. Urban Farming
Almost one-quarter of undernourished people live in an urban environment. Recently, there has been a big push for urban farming. Urban farming empowers families to gain control over their own food source.
6. Access to Education
Education is the best weapon against poverty and hunger. It is especially powerful in underdeveloped countries. Education means better opportunity and more access to income and food. Additionally, some countries have food-for-education programs where students are given free food for coming to school. This may seem like a basic idea in the United States, but it is life saving in many under developed nations.
7. Social Change
This is extremely hard and will not take place overnight. However, many social issues, such as war, pose a fundamental problem to halting world hunger. Ideally, this will happen when world powers, such as the United States and many western European nations, choose to focus on solving these issues instead of exacerbating them. However, this can only start when people in developed nations begin to care about those issues as well and pressure their governments to be productive in ending conflict.
8. Government Intervention
Aid to foreign nations needs to be more focused on government intervention, like programs that provide food to mothers and their children in poor areas. This is not much different from many programs available in the United States.
9. Empowering Women
There is a direct correlation with hunger and gender inequalities. Empowering women to gain access to food, be providers, and lead their families has had a major impact on food access and ability to change financial situations.
10. Birth Control Education
High birthrates pose a problem when trying to solve hunger. Many people are not educated on reproduction or do not have access to contraceptives. Gaining access to contraceptives allows for family planning and economic freedom.
8 Impossible Choices People Who Can't Afford Food Make Every Day
Hunger in the U.S. is on the rise, with one in seven people turning to Feeding America to get help, a new report concluded.
In its recent study on the growing problem, Feeding America -- which helps people in need through its network of food banks -- underscored how hunger will never be an isolated issue.
Far too often, all isn’t solved once a struggling household gets something to eat.
With food insecurity typically comes impossible trade-offs. In order to put food on the table, low-income families have to sacrifice another basic need that no one should have to live without.
Feel Hungry or Fill up on Cheap Fatty Foods
It may seem counterintuitive, but the hungriest areas typically have the highest obesity rates.
A March Gallup poll found that Mississippians struggled the most last year in the U.S. to afford food. At 35.4 percent, the state also had the highest obesity rate.
The issue remains that unhealthy meals are considerably cheaper than protein- and nutritionally-dense options. Of those polled, nearly 79 percent said they go for the unhealthy meals so that their families will feel satiated.
In addition to increasing obesity risks, these high fat, nutritionally bereft options also contribute to heart disease, diabetes and low energy levels.
Go to the Doctor or Fill the Fridge
Even with insurance, low-income households still often face hefty health care bills due to deductibles and uncovered services.
More than half of the clients polled said they have unpaid medical bills and 66 percent reported choosing between buying food and paying for medicine and health care in the past year.
Enjoy a Meal or Water it Down to Make it Last
Sometimes even government benefits can’t stretch that far.
One-fifth of those who depend on Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) said that they exhaust the month’s worth of benefits within a week.
To make what they have available last longer, 40 percent of people polled said that they water down food and beverages.
This coping strategy can present considerable risks, particularly when it comes to caring for babies.
Among food-insecure families, 27 percent reported adding water to formula when there was a limited amount, a method that can affect a baby’s developing brain and lead to cognitive, behavioral and psychological issues, according to a 2012 Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center study.
Eat Food That’s Expired or Nothing at All
When supplies start to run low, many desperate people turn to eating questionable fare.
Fifty-six percent of respondents said they consume food past its expiration date and 52 percent said they purchase canned foods that have been dented or damaged.
Expired deli meat, for example, poses a high risk for listeria, a serious infection that’s associated with fever and muscle aches, ABC News reported.
If canned foods show signs of damage, they could contain clostridium botulinum, a bacteria that affects the nervous system and, if left untreated, could lead to muscle paralysis and death, according to the USDA.
Pay Utility Bills or Put Food on the Table
Sixty-nine percent of people surveyed said they could only afford to either pay their utility bills or buy food in the past year. And 34 percent of respondents faced this dilemma each month.
The far-reaching consequences of this impossible choice is perhaps no clearer than in Detroit.
This year alone, at least 27,000 households there have had their water services disconnected, an "unprecedented" level for the city, according to the U.N.
Because of price hikes and an increased unemployment rate, residents living below the poverty line in Detroit simply don’t have the funds to pay these bills.
Pay for Housing or Ease Hunger Pangs
While only 5 percent of those served by Feeding America are homeless, many are hardly secure in their current housing situations.
For example, nearly one in six people polled faced an eviction or foreclosure in the past five years.
Get an Education or Eat
Struggling Americans recognize how invaluable a degree is, but they often don’t have the means to get one.
Each year, 31 percent of households reported having to choose between paying for food or education for a child or an adult.
Pay for Transportation or Some Food
For many people with limited means, the choice comes down to eating or giving up their freedom of mobility.
Of those surveyed, 67 percent said that they had to decide between having access to transportation and spending their funds on sustenance for the household, a choice that can further impede their prospects for finding work, seeking out education and buying the very food they’re struggling to afford.
The number of hungry people in the world has increased over the last few years. One in nine people in the world go hungry each day and suffer from nutritional deficiencies as a result.
In previous years, food security has been the biggest threat to the overall health of the human population, more so than malaria, tuberculosis or HIV. And, 2020 saw the most severe increase in global food insecurity as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, impacting vulnerable households almost everywhere.
Current estimates show that nearly 690 million people are going hungry – up by 10 million people in just one year and by nearly 60 million in five years.
So, what is the problem? How can it be 2021 and people are still going hungry?
The problem is not that we aren’t producing enough food, but rather that people lack access to food. Many people do not have enough money to purchase food and cannot grow their own.
And this problem is twofold: While overall hunger has steadily decreased over the past decade, there has been an increase in the number of refugees. Refugees typically suffer the most from food insecurity .
Even though approximately 11% of the world is undernourished, about 30% of the adult population are overweight.
No country in the world had seen any kind of decrease in obesity rate. In fact, it’s rising among both children and adults. While it is tempting to think of obesity as a form of “over-nutrition”, it is actually another kind of malnutrition.
People consume pre-packed food that is low in nutrients, and high in carbs and preservatives. As a result, they increase their risk of obesity.
Another surprising fact about obesity is that, while you might expect it to only occur among higher-income groups, it actually affects people at every income level.
Nutritious food is often more expensive and, in some areas, access to healthy foods is restricted or even non-existent. When food prices rise, lower-income communities have no choice but to choose prepackaged, high-carb and high-sugar options.
Go test this out for yourself. Visit your local supermarket and compare the price of a punnet of strawberries to a candy bar. Which is cheaper? If you didn’t have much money, which would you choose?
The UN is working to reduce the number of hungry people to zero by 2030. This is represented by UN SDG Goal 2: Zero Hunger.
In Fiji , one of the countries with the highest levels of obesity, GVI has been working to support local communities with setting up their own vegetable gardens.
Nutrition and cooking workshops are also held.
GVI runs regular healthy eating workshops in Fiji. In one of these workshops, women from the local community demonstrate how to cook a nutritious meal to encourage the community to eat healthy, nutrient-rich meals.
These training opportunities enable individuals to make sustainable lifestyle changes in the community. The garden means that the community is less dependent on the ups and downs of the international market and the low production of in-country farmers.
Community vegetable gardens can provide the choice of a nutritious, natural treat over a prepackaged sugary treat. Our other community development projects around the world, in Thailand , India , Nepal , Mexico , Costa Rica , and South Africa , also feature many community garden projects similar to those run in Fiji.
Burundi has been credited to be the hungriest nation in Africa and has been on top of the GHI score list for the 3rd year running. With almost 65 % of its population being below the poverty line, more than 50 % of Burundi's 10 million citizens are affected by malnutrition.
There are many other nations that are suffering from similar issues. Countries like Sierra Leone, Madagascar, CAR, Niger and Mozambique, all have a GHI score of over 20. These countries are in dire need of help. Our very own nation ranks 55th on the list with a GHI of 17.8. There are food programmes that cater towards helping the under nourished and we should all step up and do whatever we can to help the poor souls suffering from starvation and food insecurity. The world is calling for help, when do we plan on answering?
1 Donate to food pantries.
As you're stocking up on pasta, frozen veggies, and endless rolls of toilet paper, consider those who either can't afford to buy lots of groceries all at once or who are physically unable to go to the store. Now's a great time to donate supplies or money to food pantries. Luckily, many large organizations, such as Feeding America, actually prefer money donations, which can be made online or over the phone, so you can contribute to the cause without leaving your house.
If you'd prefer to donate to your local food bank, give them a quick call first (or check their website) to see if it's better to donate money or supplies. When I called my neighborhood food pantry, I was surprised that they asked for items rather than money, but this may help smaller organizations skip the step of shopping for supplies. It's also a good idea to ask if there's anything specific, like toilet paper or cleaning supplies, that they may need more of right now.
Consider donating to Meals on Wheels, which delivers both hot and frozen meals to seniors across the country. Some areas may also be in need of more volunteers to help deliver meals, so if you're interested, talk to your local program.
Nearly 22 million children in the U.S. rely on free or reduced-price meals provided at schools. Consider making a donation to No Kid Hungry, which has deployed $5 million in emergency grants to help provide meals for children as many schools across the country close.
2 Help family members or neighbors get supplies.
Reach out to family members or neighbors who may need help getting necessary supplies. If you live far away from an older family member, you may be able to held coordinate a grocery delivery so they won't have to leave the house.
If you're heading out to the store yourself, check with your neighbors to see if you can pick up groceries for them as well. As we all stay closer to home in the coming weeks, it's a great time to connect with our neighbors and support our hyper-local community.
3 Stay in touch with vulnerable friends and family.
Even though we can't physically be together right now, it's more important than ever to stay connected to family and friends to reduce stress and offer emotional support. Call, FaceTime, email, or even send snail mail, particularly to those who may need it most, such as seniors, children and teens, health care providers, and those with mental health conditions. And especially as nursing homes and jails restrict visitors, consider other ways to keep in touch. Check out the CDC's page for tips on how to help yourself and others deal with the stress and isolation of quarantine.
As everyone is encouraged to stay home, experts say there could be an increase in domestic abuse, which is also known to increase during times of financial hardship. In Jingzhou, a city in the Hubei Province of China, the number of domestic violence cases reported to a local police station tripled in February 2020, compared to the same period of time last year, according to Axios. Help spread the word that the National Domestic Violence Hotline can be reached 24/7 by phone, online chat, or text message. Visit their site for tips on how to help a loved one.
4 Donate blood.
If you are healthy, eligible to donate blood, and feel you can get to a blood center safely, consider donating blood. Especially since many blood drives scheduled across the country have been canceled due to the coronavirus, organizations are in desperate need of blood, platelets, and plasma donations.
Before you go, please note that there have been some rumors floating around that donating blood will get you a free coronavirus test. However, many blood centers are not equipped with tests, and there is currently no evidence that this respiratory disease can be transmitted by blood donation or transfusion.
5 Help support health care workers.
Frontline health care workers have been reporting a shortage of protective supplies and diagnostic tests at many hospitals. Consider donating to the World Health Organization's (COVID-19) Solidarity Response Fund, which was set up to help supply countries around the world with supplies and tests. Also consider giving to Doctors Without Borders, which responds to medical humanitarian emergencies around the world.
Now is a great time to reach out to all of the nurses, doctors, and other health care providers in your life to let them know you're there.
6 Support local and small businesses.
As restaurants, bars, and stores close in an attempt to help stop the spread of COVID-19, we've compiled a list of ways to continue to support the local businesses you care about. Things like buying gift cards to use later or purchasing merch online can help keep these businesses afloat and their employees paid.
If you have the means to do so, also consider continuing to pay hairstylists, manicurists, tutors, house cleaners, and other service industry workers who you regularly hire.
Every day too many men and women across the globe struggle to feed their children a nutritious meal. In a world where we produce enough food to feed everyone, 690 million people still go to bed on an empty stomach each night. Acute food insecurity affected 135 million people in 55 countries in 2019. Even more – one in three – suffer from some form of malnutrition.
Eradicating hunger and malnutrition is one of the great challenges of our time. Not only do the consequences of not enough – or the wrong – food cause suffering and poor health, they also slow progress in many other areas of development like education and employment.
In 2015 the global community adopted the 17 Global Goals for Sustainable Development to improve people’s lives by 2030. Goal 2 – Zero Hunger – pledges to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture, and is the priority of the World Food Programme.
Every day, WFP and its partners work to bring us closer to a zero hunger world. With our humanitarian food assistance, we provide nutritious food to those in urgent need. Meanwhile our complementary programmes address the root causes of hunger, building the resilience of communities, so we don’t need to keep saving the same lives each year.
The world has made great progress in reducing hunger: there are 300 million fewer hungry people than in 1990-92, despite a 1.9 billion increase in the world’s population. But there is still a long way to go, and no one organization can achieve Zero Hunger if it works alone. If we want to see a world free of hunger by 2030, governments, citizens, civil society organizations and the private sector must collaborate to invest, innovate and create lasting solutions.
For Action. Against Hunger.
- Lifesaving impact in 45+ countries
- 8,000+ field staff assisting more than 17 million people
- 40 years of expertise responding to emergencies caused by conflict, natural disasters, and food crises
Our global efforts save hundreds of thousands of lives each year, but millions of undernourished children remain in need of lifesaving treatment. We are committed to helping all children access the urgent hunger care they need to survive.
The world needs a better way to deal with hunger. Together, we're creating it. For everyone. For good.
Moving Toward a Sustainable Food Future
The challenge of feeding 10 billion people sustainably by 2050 is much harder than people realize. These menu items are not optional—the world must implement all 22 of them to close the food, land and GHG mitigation gaps.
The good news is that all five courses can close the gaps, while delivering co-benefits for farmers, society and human health. It will require a herculean effort and major changes to how we produce and consume food. So, let’s get started and order everything on the menu!
Download the full report, Creating a Sustainable Food Future, authored by Tim Searchinger, Richard Waite, Craig Hanson, Janet Ranganathan, Patrice Dumas and Emily Matthews
EDITOR'S NOTE, 4/15/19: In a previous version of the "Animal-based foods are more resource-intensive than plant-based foods" graphic, "rice" and "roots and tubers" were listed in the incorrect order. We have corrected the graphic, and we regret the error.
Meet one of food waste’s most formidable opponents
It all started with a simple question: Why, when we live in a world with so much food waste, are people still going hungry? The more Jasmine Crowe thought about it, the more she wanted to know. Where was the food waste going? How much was there? Was there a way to divert it to the people who need it most? With $300 and a passion for making a difference, Jasmine set out to answer those questions.
Today, Jasmine is CEO and founder of Goodr, whose mission is to feed more and waste less. The organization equips businesses with technology that lets them track their food surplus and turn it into donations to feed their local communities. Since 2017, Goodr has gone on to divert almost 3 million pounds of food from landfills to people who need it. But with 72 billion pounds of food waste in the US each year and 42 million people experiencing food insecurity, Jasmine says they’re just getting started.
Here, she shares with Microsoft In Culture her story and vision for ending hunger worldwide.
Q: You’ve researched hunger extensively. What surprises you about it most?
While businesses throw away millions of dollars of good food every day, millions of people go hungry every night. If we could reduce food waste by just 15%, we would save enough food to feed 25 million hungry Americans every year. What we’re doing has always mattered, but during these times a veil has been lifted in America. We’ve all seen so many people in this country go hungry, but we’re also seeing more people than ever ready to change that.
Q: When do you first remember realizing that hunger was an issue people faced?
My dad always tells the story. I was seven years old, and the way he described it, we went to DC on vacation. They wanted to take me to see all the monuments and government and all that. I saw people who were living on the streets and I just couldn’t stop asking him: Why are they living there? What’s happening? I just wanted answers. I had all these questions, but he didn’t have the answer to why these men and women were homeless.
Q: You mention your dad. How did your upbringing and parents influence your journey?
Growing up in a military household and seeing my father’s acts of service made a big impact on me. My mom and dad always believed in treating others with dignity—and they still live it to this day. I vividly recall being with my dad when he was a Big Brother mentor, because he would take me along. I often felt like those young boys were my brothers, especially since I was an only child at the time. Seeing what it meant to them for my dad to step in like that has always stuck with me.
Q: What do you think people often misunderstand about hunger?
The reality is at any given time in America, one in six people are going hungry. We all as people have to understand that this could be somebody close to us.
Even though I saw my parents go to work every day, they still were struggling to make ends meet, especially as a young couple. And that has definitely given me a lot perspective on what life looks like for other people, seeing it and understanding that the struggle is real. No matter if they go to work every single day, people do struggle.
Q: How did you first decide to start feeding people on a large scale?
One day, I was driving through downtown Atlanta and I saw all these people who were homeless and on the streets. I still can’t quite explain how I felt in that moment, but I was like: “I’m going to go home. I’m going to come back and feed those people that I saw out on the streets.” And so, I did it.
About 20 people offered to volunteer with me to make a spaghetti dinner. When we served that first meal at an event called Sunday Soul, people were dancing. They were digging in. They were just happy. It made me feel so good to know that we were feeding them really well. I understood that by giving someone a meal, I could take them back to a better time. I could give them hope. Soon after, we introduced a restaurant experience for the hungry. The pop-up restaurant went viral, which was a testament to the fact that our idea was powerful and very much needed.
Q: How did that idea evolve into a movement and a mission for Goodr?
When I started Goodr, it was as a solo founder, which is mostly unheard of in the startup space. I had to ask myself, how do I scale? How can there be a Sunday Soul in every single city? I would read the statistics about how hard it is for women—and especially women of color—to get venture capital. But then I lived it myself. All I heard was things like: “I don’t understand how this is going to work. Who will be the customers? No one will pay for that.” I think I took about 200 meetings and heard about 200 nos. I still keep the check stub from our very first hundred-thousand-dollar payment. I remember I posted it on Instagram and wrote: “You know, no one will pay for that.”
What drove my self-belief is seeing companies that were already paying somebody on a monthly basis to take all this good food and throw it away—all while people were going hungry. Someone just had to step up and be there to make a difference.
This is my fight to win. I am hunger's most formidable opponent.Jasmine Crowe, CEO and founder, Goodr