Ambitious undernutrition goals in 2013 Global Food Policy Report


by kkeeton | March 14, 2014

Tanzania, © Panos/B. Sokol

Tanzania, © Panos/B. Sokol

Central to post-2015 agenda discussions is the goal of eliminating extreme poverty by 2030. IFPRI is challenging whether this goal is enough. With one in eight people suffering from hunger today, and nearly 2 billion affected by hidden hunger (micronutrient deficiencies), IFPRI’s 2013 Global Food Policy Report suggests that it is equally important to eliminate hunger and undernutrition— and that it can be done by 2025.

The Report reviews major food policy developments and trends from the past year, documents emerging issues, examines key challenges and opportunities, describes the rising political commitment to food and nutrition security, and sets an agenda for action for 2014 and beyond. At the launch of this year’s report on March 12, 2014, IFPRI Director General, Shenggen Fan, presented an overview of the past year’s food policy trends and spoke more about their ambitious 2025 target.

Hunger and undernutrition cause and perpetuate poverty, negatively affect health, and have social and economic costs. Undernutrition limits people’s educational achievements and productivity, a result that in turn checks economic growth. On the flip side, eliminating hunger and nutrition can lead to significant economic gains. Studies from Ethiopia, India, and Nigeria show that every US$1 invested in reducing child stunting—an indicator of undernutrition—generates between $12 and $34 in economic returns.

Based on the critical link between poverty and hunger, the nutrition theme surfaced throughout this year’s report. From a chapter unpacking nutrition policy, to another focused on India’s Right to Food Act, one on measuring undernutrition, and another on new nutrition initiatives in Africa—the nutrition topics spanned sectors, approaches, and geography. This infographic, excerpted from data from the June 2013 Lancet series, demonstrated how nutrition-specific interventions are not enough to eliminate child stunting.


Though ambitious, many believe that reaching zero hunger and undernutrition by 2025 is realistic. The good news is that several countries—such as Brazil, China, Thailand, and Vietnam—have dramatically reduced hunger and undernutrition already. These countries implemented agriculture-led, social protection-led, and/or nutrition intervention-led strategies and reaped the benefits. Other developing countries can learn from these experiences as they chart their own paths to a food- and nutrition-secure future. Ending hunger and undernutrition will require a mix of agricultural, social protection-based and nutritional strategies.

A PDF of the full report can be found here.

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