What is hunger?
The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is the custodian agency for SDG2. It defines hunger as …. “Hunger is an uncomfortable or painful physical sensation caused by insufficient consumption of dietary energy. It becomes chronic when the person does not consume a sufficient amount of calories (dietary energy) on a regular basis to lead a normal, active and healthy life. Today, it is estimated that almost 690 million people are going hungry. For decades, FAO has used the Prevalence of Undernourishment indicator to estimate the extent of hunger in the world, thus “hunger” may also be referred to as undernourishment.” (http://www.fao.org/hunger/en/)
“The Prevalence of Undernourishment (PoU) is FAO’s traditional indicator used to monitor hunger at the global and regional level and is based on country data on food availability, food consumption and energy needs. It estimates the adequacy of a population’s dietary energy intake. Historically, the number of hungry people in the world (almost 690 million) has been derived using this approach. PoU estimates cannot be sufficiently disaggregated to be able to identify specific vulnerable populations within countries, which is a limitation for monitoring the very ambitious goal of Zero Hunger in an agenda that aims to leave no one behind.
The prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity in the population, based on the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES) is an estimate of the percentage of a country’s population that faces difficulties in accessing enough safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life. The data is collected through direct interviews by asking people about experiences associated with constrained access to food. The FIES is capable of providing measures of food insecurity at the individual or household level and at different levels of severity. Estimates can be compared across countries and sub-populations within countries. Rather than only national trends, this methodology can be used to highlight the “who” and “where” of the of food insecurity, answering the questions: which populations are the most food insecure, and where are they located?
In monitoring the progress toward SDG 2, this FAO indicator measures the proportion of the population that is experiencing moderate or severe food insecurity in a population.
People experiencing moderate food insecurity have reduced the quality and/or quantity of their food and are uncertain about their ability to obtain food due to lack of money or other resources. Moderate food insecurity can increase the risk of some forms of malnutrition, such as stunting in children, micronutrient deficiencies or obesity in adults.
People experiencing severe food insecurity have run out of food and, at the most extreme, have gone days without eating. This group of people are those we call the “hungry”. The number of severely food insecure people derived from the FIES complements the number of hungry people determined based on the POU.”
- World Hunger Map as defined by the FAO:
- World Hunger Map according to the World Hunger Index:
Find out more about the Food Insecurity Experience Scale via this FAO online course: https://elearning.fao.org/course/view.php?id=360
Find all of the FAO’s e-learning courses on the SDGs in their SDG Elearning Academy: