Where and How Numerous Are the Food Insecure

Progress in reducing the number of food insecure over the last half century is at once both promising and discomforting. As Fig. 2.2 shows, since 1970 there has been a general decline in both the number of global food insecure and their percentage of the total population, as calculated using the FAO undernourishment measure described above. These reductions were driven primarily by large gains in East and Southeast Asia, where decades of strong economic growth liberated hundreds of millions from poverty and food insecurity. In both of these regions, the prevalence of undernourishment fell from 40% to 45% in 1970 to near 10% in 2004.

These remarkable gains stand in contrast to two more worrying trends. First, progress in reducing global food insecurity seems to have slowed and even reversed in the last few years, with the number of global food insecure actually rising slightly for the last two years for which there are data. Second, Sub-Saharan Africa stands out as a region for which progress has been particularly discouraging. While South Asia continues to have the highest total number of food insecure (around 300 million by the undernourishment measure), SSA is gaining rapidly and has the highest prevalence of food insecurity at around 35% of the population - a rate that has shown little deviation over the last 4 decades.

Moreover, household survey-based estimates of food insecurity suggest that FAO statistics might underestimate the prevalence of food insecurity in the region. Using estimates of food insecurity based directly on household survey data for 12 African countries, Smith et al. (2006) calculate rates of food insecurity on average 20% higher than FAO estimates, rising up to as much as 40% in some countries (Table 2.1), and attribute much of the difference to significantly lower estimates of mean food consumption when using household survey data directly. Household data also suggest differences in the relative rates of hunger across the same sample

Number of undernourished (millions) Prevalence of undernourishment (%)

Number of undernourished (millions) Prevalence of undernourishment (%)

Fig. 2.2 Regional trends in undernourishment, 1970-2004. Left panel: number of undernourished in millions. Right panel: percent of undernourished in population (FAO 2009)
Table 2.1 Comparison of FAO and household survey-derived estimates of the prevalence of food energy deficiency for 12 African countries (from Smith et al. 2006)

Household

Household

Country

FAO estimate

survey estimate

FAO rank

survey rank

Ethiopia

44

76

4

1

Burundi

66

75

1

2

Malawi

32

73

8

3

Zambia

45

71

3

4

Rwanda

41

65

7

5

Mozambique

63

60

2

6

Senegal

24

60

10

7

Ghana

15

51

12

8

Guinea

31

45

9

9

Kenya

43

44

5

10

Tanzania

43

44

6

11

Uganda

21

37

11

12

Mean

39

59

Table 2.2 Prevalence of rural and urban food energy deficiency in selected African countries (from Smith et al. 2006)

Table 2.2 Prevalence of rural and urban food energy deficiency in selected African countries (from Smith et al. 2006)

Percent of

Rural

food energy

population

Rural

Urban

deficient who

as % of total

Country

prevalence

prevalence

are rural

population

Burundi

76

41

95

90

Ethiopia

74

90

82

85

Ghana

50

53

53

55

Guinea

40

54

59

66

Kenya

46

30

71

62

Malawi

73

76

84

84

Mozambique

63

51

70

65

Rwanda

67

55

86

83

Senegal

54

69

45

51

Tanzania

42

53

60

66

Uganda

36

41

86

88

Zambia

71

71

65

65

countries, which is potentially of relevance to policy-makers trying to target assistance priorities across countries (right columns of Table 2.1). For instance, Ethiopia ranks as the fourth most food insecure country in the sample using FAO data, but the most food insecure country using household data.

Household data also allow further insight into the location of poverty within countries. While gripping images of urban slums are often the public face of food insecurity, household data typically reveal that the majority of the food insecure reside in rural areas. Table 2.2 shows that while the prevalence of food insecurity can be as high or higher in urban areas, a much greater percent of the total number of food insecure in a given country live in rural areas, largely reflecting the much higher percentage of the total population still residing in rural regions. And although the developing world is urbanizing, broader analyses of survey data suggest that the majority of the world's poor and food insecure will remain in rural areas for years to come (Ravallion et al. 2007).

This basic picture of the state of global food security - strong recent progress in some regions, little progress in other regions, many of which remain desperately poor, and the dominant role of rural populations in the total number of food insecure - provide the baseline for our exploration of the effects of climate change on the three aspects of food security, which we now take up in turn.

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable Energy 101

Renewable energy is energy that is generated from sunlight, rain, tides, geothermal heat and wind. These sources are naturally and constantly replenished, which is why they are deemed as renewable. The usage of renewable energy sources is very important when considering the sustainability of the existing energy usage of the world. While there is currently an abundance of non-renewable energy sources, such as nuclear fuels, these energy sources are depleting. In addition to being a non-renewable supply, the non-renewable energy sources release emissions into the air, which has an adverse effect on the environment.

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