Hunger is a serious global issue that affects millions in developing countries, and hunger in Asia is particularly devastating. According to the World Food Programme, there are 842 million people suffering from hunger across the world, and 98 percent of that total amount lives in developing areas within Asia, the Pacific, Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean.
As the largest and most populous continent, Asia is home to approximately 4.427 billion people. Unfortunately, a large amount of that population suffers from hunger.
Top Facts about Hunger in Asia
1. Asia has the largest number of hungry people, with more than 500 million suffering.
2. About 62.4 percent of global hunger exists in both Asia and the South Pacific.
3. More than 20 percent of Asian children are underweight, meaning they are too thin for their age, and more than 70 percent of malnourished children live in Asia.
4. The lack of essential vitamins and minerals in one’s diet is a leading cause of hunger and malnutrition. Both Asia and Africa are iodine deficient areas. Iodine deficiency disorders (IDD) greatly impact the mental and cognitive development of children, and if pregnant women do not receive the proper amount of iodine, there is a greater chance the pregnancy will result in abortion, stillbirth and congenital abnormalities.
5. About 75 percent of all those suffering from hunger live in rural areas, and a large majority of them live in the villages of Asia and Africa.
6. Out of the 553 million malnourished people living in Asia, six out of ten live in South Asia and eight out of ten are malnourished children living in those areas.
7. The poor and hungry in Asia face difficulties as the demand for food increases while water and land resources decrease, causing food prices to rise. If these food prices did not rise during the 2000s, approximately 112 million people in Asia could have escaped poverty.
However, there is some good news and socio-economic progress in Asia:
8. The 2013 Global Hunger Index (GHI) score for South Asia decreased by 34 percent when compared to the 1990 score.
9. Although 553 million people are still hungry in Asia, this represents a 30 percent decrease from the previous 739 million hungry people. Malnourishment has also decreased from 23.7 to 13.9 percent.
10. The U.N. launched the Zero Hunger Challenge on April 29, 2013, which has led governments, scientists, businesses, civil societies, farmers and consumers to work together to end poverty and hunger in Asia and the Pacific. To achieve this goal, the Zero Hunger Challenge outlined five objectives: ensure everyone always has access to nutritious foods, end childhood stunting, develop sustainable food systems, increase the productivity and income of small farmers and prevent the loss and wasting of food.
As these facts reveal, too many people across the world still suffer from hunger. Like in any other country, hunger in Asia affects the development of entire societies and communities.
– Meghan Orner