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FEATURE STORY

Working to End Hunger, Now and in the Future

October 16, 2014


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Photo: paulaphoto via Shutterstock

STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Hunger affects poor people the most—it diminishes their health, welfare and economic well-being
  • Hunger is a drain on development that can impact a developing country's growth and productivity
  • The World Bank is implementing integrated, holistic solutions across agriculture, environment, transport and more to end hunger and feed the world

One in nine people suffer from chronic hunger, more than 1 billion people are undernourished, and 3.1 million children die every year due to hunger and malnutrition.

Hunger affects poor people the most—both in the present and over the long term. When people are hungry and malnourished, they are less able to improve their livelihoods; adequately care for their families; live full and healthy lives and lift themselves out of poverty.  Children are especially vulnerable—malnutrition in the first two years of life can result in physical and cognitive damage that diminishes future health, welfare and economic well-being.

For developing countries, this is a drain on development with effects that can last for generations. Hunger impairs a person’s ability to be part of a productive workforce, and contribute to economic growth. In the short term, food shortages and rising food prices can widen inequality, and lead to conflict and instability.

Feeding the world with sufficient, nutritious food is already a huge challenge in the present. The problem is set to intensify in the future, as the population grows, climate change affects food production and the natural resources that help feed the world are stretched even further. 

What is the World Bank doing to end hunger now and in the future?



" We're tackling the food insecurity challenge by implementing integrated solutions that cut across sectors. It’s not just a matter of sustainable resource management, more efficient storage or even producing more food. It encompasses all of the above—and more. "

Juergen Voegele

Senior Director, Agriculture Global Practice, The World Bank


According to Juergen Voegele, Senior Director, Agriculture Global Practice, “We’re tackling the food insecurity challenge by implementing integrated solutions that cut across sectors. It’s not just a matter of sustainable resource management, more efficient storage or even producing more food. It encompasses all of the above—and more.”

The Bank is helping countries sustainably manage landscapes such as farms, forestswatersheds and coastal fisheries so that they are more productive. Community management of fisheries has helped restore fish stocks in Senegal, where according to Issa Sagne, President of the Local Committee of Fishers of Ngaparou, “Now, the fish are really abundant.” Climate-Smart Agriculture, which aims to produce more food on less land, improve climate resilience and reduce negative environmental impact, has tripled maize yields in Zambia and improved the incomes of farmers in Costa Rica. The Bank is also empowering the farmers that produce much of the world’s food in other ways, including by providing crop insurance, expanding access to financial services and improving access to resources for women.

But food security is not just a question of increased productivity. Up to 1/3 of all food produced is wasted—mainly during production, storage and transport. To reduce food waste, the Bank is helping countries implement modern food storage and distribution systems, as well as improve the agro-supply chains. The Bank is also addressing food crises and price volatility—which makes food unaffordable for the world’s poorest—by contributing to tools that improve agricultural market transparency and monitoring global vulnerability to food crises.

The World Bank is tackling food insecurity with a holistic approach—using its expertise in agriculture, sustainable management, logistics, irrigation, and research and analysis to implement integrated solutions. Feeding the world is a big, complex task, and the Bank is more committed than ever to putting nutritious food onto the plates of the world’s poorest people.



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