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close this bookTackling Hunger in a World Full of Food: Tasks Ahead for Food Aid (WFP)
close this folder1. Food security: sustaining people
View the documentIntroduction
View the documentTimes of plenty do not rule out hunger
View the documentHumanitarian crises and acute hunger
View the documentHunger within the household
View the documentThe chronically poor and hungry
View the documentThe geography of hunger

Times of plenty do not rule out hunger

Hunger in a world of plenty
1.4 Hunger is indefensible in a world full of food. At a time when sufficient food is produced at a global level to meet the needs of every individual alive, an estimated 800 million people suffer chronic undernutrition, and as many as 2 billion more people lack essential micronutrients (FAO 1995a). The reality is that adequacy of food at a global, national or even regional level does not rule out serious hunger at a local level. With almost 100 million new people likely to be added to the world's population each year during the coming three decades, there is an urgent need to ensure that today's hunger is addressed today-not left for tomorrow when its severity and impact may be compounded.
1.5 Hunger has chronic, seasonal and short-term (acute) dimensions. Chronic hunger is a consequence of diets persistently inadequate in terms of quantity and/or quality, resulting from household poverty. Seasonal hunger is related to cycles of food growing and harvesting. Acute hunger, by contrast, arises from absolute shortages of food, often due to climatic vagaries or other natural disasters; or to inaccessibility of food because of armed conflict, or massive collapse in purchasing power associated with disruptions in labour or food markets.
1.6 While the dimensions, causes, and consequences of hunger differ widely even within the same country, all least-developed, food-deficit countries, and many middle-income countries are inhabited by hungry people. These people do not have uniform characteristics. Just as some regions of a country are devastated by drought while others are not, some people suffer extremes of hunger and others do not, even in the same household (Webb and Von Braun 1994). Three main categories of hunger are identified below.