Urging our nation's leaders to end hunger
 

31 posts categorized "Hunger Report"

Women's History Month: To End Hunger, Women's Empowerment Must Prevail

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By Bread Staff

Today concludes the Bread Blog posts celebrating Women’s History Month. It is fitting that it comes a few days after a Capitol Hill briefing on the 2015 Hunger Report When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger.

Chisholm’s words are apt considering that discrimination is a significant roadblock to women’s empowerment. Because women are key to ending hunger by 2030, their empowerment is vital to the process.

“There is substantial evidence that educating girls, improving women’s health outcomes, and increasing their incomes pays huge dividends for their children, for their families, for their communities and for their countries, said Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute, during Friday's briefing.

The Hunger Report looks at discrimination as a cause of persistent hunger and makes policy and program recommendations in order to empower women both in the United States and around the world. Increasing women’s earning potential by boosting bargaining power, reducing gender inequality in unpaid work, increasing women’s political representation, and eliminating the wage gap between male and female labor directly contributes to ending hunger.

These issues were discussed during the briefing, which was hosted by the offices of U.S. Reps. Bobby Rush (D-IL) and Karen Bass (D-CA), Bread for the World Institute and the African American on the Hill.

Panelists included Margaret Enis Spears, director of the office of markets, partnerships and innovations, U.S. Agency for International Development; Ambassador Amina S. Ali, permanent representative, The African Union Mission to the United States; Shari Berenbach, president and CEO, United States African Development Foundation, and Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith, associate for National African American Church Engagement at Bread for the World.

The Hunger Report recommends that in order to improve women’s empowerment and end extreme hunger and poverty worldwide, women should have more economic bargaining power. If women had more control of their income and assets, their bargaining power in both the household and the market economy would increase, as well as their ability to feed and provide for themselves and their children.

According to U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization estimates, if women in Africa and elsewhere had the same access to agricultural resources as men, they could grow 20 to 30 percent more food. This could move roughly 150 million people of out hunger and poverty!

To achieve this, the U.S. government must increase its investments in agricultural-development programs like Feed the Future. And it should place a stronger emphasis on programming that supports women smallholder farmers when it implements projects. 

For more information on the integral role women play in ending hunger and poverty, make sure to read When Women Flourish… We Can End Hunger and also visit Bread Blog.

 

One More River to Cross

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Thousands march across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday. Asha G. Smith for Bread for the World.

By Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith

More than 61,000 people made their way to Selma, Ala., to commemorate the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday on March 8. I was one of them. I wanted to be there to recognize that historic moment in 1965 that resulted in voting rights for all in the United States. It was a moment that I’ll not soon forget.

As I was returning from having crossed the Edmund Pettus Bridge, I heard a call to make way for a 1965 participant who was in a wheelchair. I flung my arms open and started to make my way through the pressing crowd to usher this elder, this African-American stateswoman, across the bridge. What an amazing honor to serve for a moment this great woman of faith who had already served me and our nation 50 years ago. She soon offered her thanks. I told her that all the thanks go to her and people like her.

People like me and my children to have a better quality of life today because of the bridges crossed by Ms. Ruby Shuttlesworth and 1965 foot soldiers.  The problem: We have more rivers to cross, and therefore more bridges to build. 20150308_215628selma3

Unfortunately, African-American women still struggle to put food on the table and still live in poverty. Hunger and poverty are still putting more and more African-American women and children at risk of poor nutrition. A principle cause of hunger is the inability to buy nutritious food. Economic empowerment still has to be a priority.

Bread's new fact sheet, Hunger by the Numbers in the African-American Community, informs us of the following:

 • More than one in three African-American children live in poverty. One in five children in our country as a whole live in poverty.

• More than one in four African-American households struggled to put food on the table in 2013.

• 32.6 percent of African-American households with children were food-insecure. 19.5 percent of all U.S. households with children were food-insecure.

Your leadership is needed to ensure that our children are fed. Urge Congress to strengthen our child nutrition programs, particularly the summer meals program. Congress must also protect SNAP - our largest child nutrition program - from cuts in the budget. And please pray with Bread to end hunger.

Rev. Dr. Angelique Walker-Smith is Bread for the World’s national senior associate for African-American and African church engagement.

Photo: Angelique Walker-Smith, left, and Ruby Shuttlesworth, right, at the 50th anniversary of Bloody Sunday in Selma, Ala. Ava Bester for Bread for the World.

What Comes After the Millennium Development Goals?

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Women’s empowerment is the focus of this year’s Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger.  Stephan Bachenheimer/World Bank.


By Robin Stephenson

In 2000, governments across the globe agreed to make ending hunger a priority. They established measurable goals and a common framework that would drive policy decisions and ultimately cut extreme poverty in half by 2015.

Like me, you may have first heard about the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) through your church.

In 2008, as part of its Offering of Letters workshop, my church’s advocacy committee set up eight stations in our sanctuary to teach us about the hunger-reducing goals. After learning about each MDG, our task was to write our members of Congress and urge them to act.

The first station was a pedestal with a bowl of rice on it. As I let the individual grains sift through my fingers, I reflected on a question written there: Can we cut extreme poverty in half?

I’ll admit that I was more of a skeptic than an optimist. Extreme poverty means living on $1.25 a day. In 1990, that was the wage that 43 percent of the world earned each day. The question seemed overwhelming and the solution impossible.

I couldn’t have been more wrong.

By 2010, the number of people who lived on $1.25 a day dropped to roughly 21 percent. In other words, we achieved the first goal and cut extreme poverty in half five years before the 2015 deadline!

Still, nearly 1 billion people continue to live on $1.25 a day. There is more work to do, but the MDGs expire in a little over 300 days.

Overall, the strategy was a success, and we have learned some surprising things. The world can and will galvanize around a plan to end hunger. We increase our impact when we have a shared strategy. By defining measurable goals, we now have data–even missing data–that can better inform a path forward.

Even when results were less than stellar, we gained valuable information. For example, women’s empowerment has been slow and uneven. In areas where the MDG framework helped empower women, progress against hunger is accelerated.

Fouzia Abdikadir Dahir, a Mandela Washington Fellow and native of Kenya, is one of those empowered leaders transforming her community.

Dahir founded the Northwestern Organization for Social Empowerment in her country. She contributed to this year’s Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger. “Being a pastoral woman from this region who has made it this far,” she writes, “I plan to use every opportunity to advocate for the rights of these women and girls.”

Now the question is what happens next. After another round of consultations with the world’s governments, the answer is coming in the form of a new framework: Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

The SDGs, expected to be adopted at a summit this coming September in New York, will set international development priorities through 2030. The suggested 17 goals aim to do more than halve extreme poverty – but end it.

Can we end hunger by 2030? After seeing what the world did in 15 short years, my answer is an emphatic yes!

In 2015, Bread invites you to learn about hunger and to join us in our effort to end hunger by 2030.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Rural Oregon School Drops School Lunch Program

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In Oregon, 27.3 percent of children were food insecure in 2012. Nationally, 15.8 million American children lived in food insecure households. (Robin Stephenson)

By Robin Stephenson

We have a problem in Oregon: We have one of the highest rates of hunger in the nation. Oregonian columnist David Sarasohn wrote that if there was a town called poverty it would be the largest city in Oregon.

That town would look a lot like Jordan Valley in rural Malheur County. The beauty of the high desert landscape belies a hidden reality of hunger and poverty; one in four residents live below the poverty line. In 2010, 24.3 percent of residents utilized food stamps, compared to 14.6 percent in the Portland metropolitan area. Malheur County has a 30.1% rate of child food insecurity - meaning kids are skipping meals.

Like jobs, resources in Jordan Valley are limited; the nearest full-service grocery store is nearly 100 miles away. Approximately 80 students are bused to school each day from remote ranches and 50 percent qualify for free or reduced-price lunch based on family income.

So, hearing Oregon Public Broadcasting (OPB) report that Jordan Valley dropped their free and reduced-price lunch program made my jaw drop. This makes no sense.

Kids learn better, graduate at higher rates, and are healthier when they have access to a nutritious lunch. There is a lot at stake here. The United States has a federal program that subsidizes school lunch, but the program is optional.

The problem is that the program isn’t working for Jordan Valley. 

Sharon Thornberry, a Bread for the World board member, sees the urban-rural hunger divide in her work as the community food systems manager at the Oregon Food Bank.  She views hunger at the community level. Thornberry says Jordan Valley exposes a policy issue that needs attention. She told OPB that the lunch program no longer works for rural communities. “I can remember them telling me in Jordan Valley that each meal cost them a dollar more than the federal reimbursement,” she said.

Economically depressed districts need full reimbursement for school lunches or other policy interventions that are specific to the circumstances rural communities face today.

Jordan Valley is not unique – rural towns across America experience higher rates of hunger and poverty.  Of course, the permanent solution to our hunger problem is a job that pays enough to support a family.  In the meantime, the school lunch program is a critical tool to combat child hunger.

I grew up in a town similar to Jordan Valley and bused to school from our small family farm. I am thankful for the free lunch I received that took the pressure off my parents during some tough economic times.  Sometimes, we all need a little help.

The program that authorizes the national school lunch program expires September 30, 2015. In the reauthorization process, members of Congress have an opportunity to strengthen the program so it works for dual communities, especially Greg Walden, who has constituents in Jordan Valley.

Learn more in this new briefing paperEnding Hunger in the United States.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

The 2015 Hunger Report Launch in Slides

By Bread Staff

The 2015 Hunger Report was unveiled on Monday to a jam-packed room at the National Press Club. Holding the report aloft, Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, said,  “We publish these reports every year. I think this will be our most popular.”

The report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger, identifies the empowerment of women and girls as essential to ending hunger, extreme poverty, and malnutrition in the United States and around the world.

During a panel discussion, Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute, said putting women in the center of policy and program decisions is logical. “When women are empowered benefits extends beyond them,” she said.

Lateef stressed that empowerment must support women’s inclusion as decision makers in civil society. However, she added, that women too often are faced with barriers that limit their ability to engage fully in economic activity.

A key takeaway from the panel discussion was that the experts are the women who are working to overcome barriers of discrimination every day. Professionals and advocates must listen and act to remove those barriers that hinder women’s untapped potential.

“We have to be intentional about empowering women, it won’t happen on its own,” Lateef said.

Aside from Lateef, other speakers who took part in the panel discussion were Victoria Stanley, senior rural development and land specialist at the World Bank; Fouzia Dahir, executive director of the Northern Organization For Social Empowerment in Kenya; Gary Barker, co-chair of MenEngage Alliance and Andrea James, executive director of Families for Justice as Healing. The panel was moderated by Sandra Joireman, chair of Bread’s board of directors and a professor of political science at the University of Richmond.

Watch the photographic slide show above to learn about the launch and what the panelist had to say.  And then explore www.hungerreport.com to learn more about the program and policy recommendations that will build equality. 

 

The Gender Matrix

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Reprinted from the Hewlett Foundation Blog: Work in Progress. Bread for the World Institute is a Hewlett Foundation grantee. 

By Alfonsina Peñaloza

In the movie The Matrix, the main character, Neo, is offered two pills: a red one, which will show him the painful truth of life outside the Matrix; and a blue one, which will erase all memory of what has occurred and send him back to blissful ignorance within it. Sometimes I feel that trying to understand gender and development issues, we’re all Neo, working inexorably towards our own moments of choice. A word of caution: once you look at the world through the lens of gender-based differences in power and opportunity, you can never unsee it.

Today, Bread for the World Institute launched its flagship 2015 Hunger Report. This year’s edition focuses on women’s economic empowerment, tackling issues that are at the forefront of gender and development. Poverty affects women differently than men. Working conditions, discrimination, and social norms mean women and the work they perform (both within and outside the economy) are less valued then men and their work. Women experience more poverty in terms of income, and are also more impoverished in other ways—education, health, time.

Nowhere is this clearer than in the burden of domestic work. Women and girls are usually responsible for what is sometimes called reproductive work, such as taking care of family, cooking, and cleaning. More women have joined the workforce, but men have not stepped up at home, so overall women work more and get paid less. The upshot is that many women (particularly in low-income countries) work double shifts, one of which one is unpaid.

Bread for the World Institute's report also highlights the importance of collective action. A critical element of empowerment is voice, and women who advocate collectively for their rights are more likely to be heard.

Perhaps most important, the 2014 Hunger Report draws a very clear picture: Women are missing from economic data. We just don’t know how and how much women are contributing to the economy, since most of their work is undervalued, invisible in the statistics, or both. This is not a data gap like many others we worry about in global development; it’s a reflection of systemic gender-bias, and it prevents sound policy-making.

To accompany the report, Bread for the World Institute launched a powerful visualization tool to illustrate how women are missing from data.

The tool allows you to search by country, region and five main indicator categories: public life, human rights, health, education and economic participation. Each indicator – such as mortality rate or wage gap- is represented by a pixel, and all the pixels together make up the picture of a woman. The more data available, the clearer the image. The conclusion is stark: in most cases we can’t see the women, and so the visualization imparts a powerful message: without the data, women can’t be seen. And if they can’t be seen, how can women have a voice and a seat at the table where economic decisions are made?

Data

(As an aside: This tool was created at a hackathon, and initially set out to visualize data on women’s economic empowerment. It ended up taking a much more novel approach by visualizing the absence of data, rather than the data itself. It cost the organization no money other than the costs of organizing the hackathon—a great example of how innovation and creativity can go a long way in the face of limited resources.)

Bread for the World Institute has always included women in their reports. After all, the role that women play as caregivers and farmers puts them at the center of the hunger issue. However, this year’s report doesn’t just include women as research subjects; rather, it examines the social constructs and the gender biases in policies that hold women back, and impede development. You could even say that Bread for the World Institute has come to their moment of choice and decided to take the red pill, applying a gender lens to their work and seeing for the first time behind the “Gender Matrix.” Like Neo waking up to his revolution, there is no going back.

Alfonsina Peñaloza is a program officer in the global development and population program at the William and Flora Hewlett Foundation

 

2015 Hunger Report Released Today: When Women Flourish...We Can End Hunger

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By Bread Staff

The 2015 Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger, and the companion website are available today.

The annual report will be released at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C. during a 9:00 a.m. - 11:00 a.m. EST launch event. You can follow the launch on Twitter using the hashtag #HungerReport.

Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, will introduce When Women Flourish...We Can End Hunger, which shows why empowering women is vital to ending hunger and poverty. Women are the primary agents the world relies on to fight hunger. In developing countries, most women work in subsistence farming - the backbone of local food security. Women the world over feed and nourish their children.

The release will include a panel moderated by Sandra Joireman, chair of Bread for the World's board of directors. Panelists include Fouzia Dahir, executive director of the Northern Organization For Social Empowerment; Asma Lateef, director of Bread for the World Institute; Victoria Stanley, senior rural development and land specialist at the World Bank; Gary Barker, international director at Promundo-US and Andrea James, executive director of Families for Justice as Healing.

When Women Flourish...We Can End Hunger looks at discrimination as a cause of persistent hunger and makes policy and program recommendations in order to empower women both in the United States and around the world. Increasing women’s earning potential by boosting bargaining power, reducing gender inequality in unpaid work, increasing women’s political representation, and eliminating the wage gap between male and female labor directly contributes to ending hunger.

Bread for the World Institute provides policy analysis on hunger and strategies to end it. The Institute releases a hunger report each year that educates opinion leaders, policy makers, and the public about hunger in the United States and abroad.

Learn more about this year's hunger report at the companion website. The 2015 Hunger Report, and past reports, are available for purchase at Bread for the World's online store.

 

The Changing Story of Women

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Nimna Diayte. (Stephane Tourné/USAID)

By Robin Stephenson

The narrative of women is often a story of discrimination and marginalization. The face of poverty is disproportionately female. But as we write history, we have the power to change the story by empowering women.

New models of development show investing in women increases food security.

Programs, like Feed the Future, that make women’s capabilities a central component to agriculture and nutrition investment are yielding some impressive results: Seven million small farmers increased crop production and provided nutritious food to 12.5 million children in 2013 alone.

Nimna Diayté, a mother of six from Senegal, is one of those farmers. Diayté was barely making a living farming five acres of maize. A year later, she increased her acreage to 13 and tripled her income. Feed the Future helped create a collective so that farmers in Diayté’s community could increase their bargaining power. Diayté didn’t just benefit from the farming collective; she now leads it! Her knowledge and experience are transforming her community from one of scarcity to bounty.

She writes, “[t]he Feed the Future initiative helped us help each other, leading to the formation of a federation of some 3,000 producers who last year produced and sold 13,000 tons of corn on 5,000 hectares of land to feed our families and plan for next season.”

Bread for the World recommends Congress make Feed the Future permanent law.

In developing countries, most women work in subsistence farming. When women organize to work within groups, they are better able to overcome the gender discrimination they experience as individuals. Empowering women like Nimna Diayté as agents of change in the fight against food insecurity is the theme of the 2015 Hunger Report: When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger.

The report, which will launch November 24 at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C., looks at discrimination as a cause of persistent hunger and makes policy and program recommendations that would empower women both in the United States and around the world. Increasing women’s earning potential by boosting bargaining power, reducing gender inequality in unpaid work, increasing women’s political representation, and eliminating the wage gap between male and female labor directly contributes to ending hunger.

Before the turn of the 19th century, women’s work in the United States was confined to the home and was often unpaid. Women's work has long been a vital force in the U.S. economy and, with fair polices, may finally be free from entrenched and interconnected racism and sexism. With the recent elections, women's voices – a historic 100 voices in Congress - are an increasing influence in U.S. politics.

The story of women is unfinished, and the conclusion depends on what we do today. However, one thing is clear: empowering women benefits everyone.

To learn more about the 2015 Hunger Report, When Women Flourish…We Can End Hunger, read the executive summary. And join us Monday, November 24, 9:00 AM - 11:00 AM EST, as we live Tweet the launch with the hashtag  #Hunger Report.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and a senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

A Midterm Winner: Raising the Minimum Wage

 

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A woman cleans an office in Washington, D.C. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)

By Robin Stephenson

Regardless of whether your candidate won a seat in Congress yesterday, one thing was made clear during the 2014 midterm elections: raising the minimum wage is a popular issue with voters - an issue that crosses partisan divides.

Yesterday, ballot measures to increase the minimum wage passed in Arkansas, Alaska, Nebraska, and South Dakota.  Since 2013, 13 states have opted to raise their minimum wage.  The momentum is building.

A full-time job should pay enough to support a family. For too many, it does not – but that is slowly changing as voters speak up in state after state.  However, a real path to ending wage stagnation and income inequality in the United States requires Congress to do its part.

Raising the minimum wage is no small accomplishment for workers like Gregory Stewart, 36, of Little Rock, Ark., who wants to provide for his daughters. He works two jobs and still depends on family support.  Raising the minimum wage from $6.25 to $8.50 by 2017 will help the Stewarts. Closing the wage gap is a first step in moving Arkansas away from the label as hungriest state.

Republican senators John Boozman and Tom Cotton, the senator-elect for Arkansas, now have an opportunity to do even more for families like the Stewarts.  They should help pass a federal minimum wage that gives all workers a fair deal.

In 2014, Congress failed to act at the federal level. In April, the Senate failed to pass The Minimum Wage Fairness Act (S. 1737). The bill would raise the minimum wage to $10.10 by 2016, index it for inflation, and raise the tipped minimum wage to 70 percent of the general minimum wage.

The federal minimum wage is set at $7.25, translating to a $15,080 annual salary for a full-time worker, and has not been increased since 2009, even though the cost of living has risen.  If the minimum wage had kept up with U.S. productivity growth since 1950, it would be $18.67 today.  This year's Hunger Report, Ending Hunger in America, points out that 28 percent of U.S. workers earn poverty-level wages.

“Too many workers in this country face hard times as a result of insufficient wages,” said Rev. David Beckmann, president of Bread for the World, in a press release earlier this year. “There is no reason that full-time workers should struggle to provide for their families.”

We are likely to see The Minimum Wage Fairness Act come up for a vote again.  This time, perhaps Congress will be listening and give American workers a fair deal.

Robin Stephenson is the national lead for social media and senior regional organizer at Bread for the World.

Two Billion People Suffer from ‘Hidden Hunger’

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A student who benefits from a USAID funded feeding program in Guatemala. (Joseph Molieri/Bread for the World)


By Kimberly Burge

According to a new report released this week, a staggering 2 billion people do not get the essential vitamins and minerals from the food they eat. They remain undernourished, suffering from the “hidden hunger” of micronutrient and vitamin deficiencies.

The annual Global Hunger Index (GHI) is released jointly by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Welthungerhilfe (one of Germany's largest private development organizations), and Concern Worldwide. The 2014 report finds that, while great strides have been made to feed the world, 805 million people are still chronically undernourished because they do not get enough to eat. Even those who get sufficient calories can suffer from hidden hunger, an often overlooked yet critical aspect of hunger and nutrition.

Hidden hunger is often hard to detect, but is potentially devastating. Hidden hunger weakens the immune system, stunts physical and intellectual growth, and can lead to death. It wreaks economic havoc as well, locking countries into cycles of poor nutrition, lost productivity, poverty, and reduced economic growth.

Bread for the World Institute has explored the issue of hidden hunger in several previous Hunger Reports. Frontline Issues in Nutrition Assistance: Hunger Report 2006 recommended food fortification and the addition of vitamin and mineral supplements to nutrition programs to help boost the health and nutritional status of those who are malnourished. For example, iodine deficiency causes problems with cognitive development and remains the world’s single greatest cause of preventable mental retardation. But developing countries are making efforts to add iodine to household salt, efforts that are paying off. Between 1997 and 2002, 67 percent of all households in sub-Saharan Africa were consuming iodized salt, along with 53 percent in South Asia, the Middle East, and North Africa; 80 percent in East Asia; and 91 percent in Latin America and the Caribbean. 

“Particularly in countries facing a high burden of malnutrition, hidden hunger goes hand in hand with other forms of malnutrition and cannot be addressed in isolation,” said Welthungerhilfe president Bärbel Dieckmann. “In the long-term, people cannot break out of the vicious cycle of poverty and malnutrition without being granted the basic right to nutritious food.”

Hidden hunger is not found exclusively in developing countries, however. It crosses borders and exists here in the United States as well, as the Institute’s Senior Editor Todd Post saw while researching Hunger Report 2012.

“In Philadelphia, I visited emergency rooms with Dr. Mariana Chilton, head of Witnesses to Hunger, who recruited women to participate in Witnesses first by targeting mothers who brought their babies to the emergency room for something they thought was unrelated to hunger,” recalls Post. “The children were suffering from a condition known as ‘failure to thrive,’ a precursor to stunting, which was malnutrition related.”

“Failure to thrive” is the clinical term for a child severely underweight for her age. Witnesses to Hunger was born out of Children’s HealthWatch, a multi-city research project that is studying the effects of hunger on the health and well-being of young children. The project screens children in emergency rooms and ambulatory care clinics at five medical centers across the country, since undernourished children have higher rates of hospitalization.

To read more about Witnesses to Hunger and Dr. Chilton’s work, see p. 52-53 of Rebalancing Act: 2012 Hunger Report.  

There was good news to be found in this year’s Global Hunger Index. The number of people going hungry has steadily decreased in most developing countries. Since 1990, hunger in the developing world has fallen by 39 percent, and 26 countries have reduced their scores by 50 percent or more. Angola, Bangladesh, Cambodia, Chad, Ghana, Malawi, Niger, Rwanda, Thailand, and Vietnam have seen the greatest improvements in their scores between the 1990 GHI and the 2014 GHI.

And bad news, too: Levels of hunger are still “alarming” in 14 countries, and “extremely alarming” in two, Burundi and Eritrea.

Kimberly Burge is the interim associate online editor for Bread for the World.

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