Oct 16 Tuesday marks World Food Day, with aid workers warning that war, weather, disease and deepening poverty leave more people hungry and in need of food aid each year just as rising prices make feeding them more expensive.
Below are some global statistics on food shortages and aid and a summary of some of the world's current food crises.
-- 854 million people worldwide do not have enough to eat, more than the combined populations of the United States, Canada and the European Union.
-- In the 1990s, global poverty dropped by 20 percent, as the number of hungry people increased by 18 million.
-- Every five seconds a child dies because of hunger.
-- One in four children in developing countries is underweight.
DEMOCRATIC REPUBLIC OF CONGO -- widespread shortages persist despite the end of Africa's most destructive civil war, with the U.N. unable to reach a third of the 300,000 people newly displaced by renewed fighting in the east.
ETHIOPIA -- as Ethiopia's government fights a counter-insurgency campaign in its ethnic Somali Ogaden region, rebels accuse the government of "man-made famine" and aid workers say delivery of food aid to 600,000 people is patchy at best. The Red Cross and aid group MSF have both been expelled from the region.
LESOTHO and SWAZILAND -- the two southern African kingdoms are suffering drought, soil erosion and some of the world's highest HIV rates and have suffered serious shortages every year this decade.
MALAWI and ZAMBIA -- having suffered years of repeated shortages from drought, the impact of HIV and deepening poverty, both countries have reported a surplus this year after better weather and improved access to inputs such as fertiliser.
SOMALIA -- ongoing conflict and the worst drought in years combined to restrict access to aid agencies and commercial supply of food, particularly after the closure of the main market in the capital Mogadishu. The U.N. says there have been 13 deaths at WFP food distributions this year and the number of incidents is rising. Maritime aid shipments run the risk of piracy.
SUDAN -- despite growing insecurity aid workers continue to feed some 4 million people in need of assistance in Darfur, as well as others affected by the now ended conflict in the south and recent flooding.
UGANDA -- widespread flooding in northern Uganda, home to people displaced by conflict, has led to WFP airdrops of food. Some 250,000 people in camps did not receive their September rations because of flooding.
WEST AFRICA -- after serious shortages in the Sahel in 2005, West Africa is seen as having had a good agricultural year but aid workers warn pockets of shortage remain in countries such as Niger, which remain vulnerable to massive crop failures.
ZIMBABWE -- drought, HIV, economic and agricultural collapse have hit harvests and the U.N. sees food aid needs rising from a current one million people to 4 million by the end of the year.
AFGHANISTAN -- despite ongoing conflict, Afghanistan has seen its best grain harvest in years.
NORTH KOREA -- still recovering from a devastating famine in the 1990s, North Korea this year suffered floods that damaged nearly a sixth of arable land. WFP is providing flood emergency food rations to 215,000 people.
SRI LANKA -- the resumption of civil war in 2006 restricted both commercial food deliveries and aid flows particularly to rebel Tamil Tiger areas in the north and east. The government-held northern Jaffna enclave has been effectively cut off for over a year, with rising prices and malnutrition rates.
IRAQ - food distribution in Iraq is difficult due to widespread violence, and AID agencies find it hard to reach the 2 million displaced within Iraq. Another 2 million people have fled mainly to neighbouring Syria and Jordan.
PALESTINIAN TERRITORIES -- some 2 million Palestinians receive food aid either from WFP or from the United Nations Refugee and Works Agency, which works with Palestinian refugees. Food aid has been allowed through Israel's blockade of the Gaza Strip since the takeover by Islamist group Hamas. With Gaza unable to export, food stalls are unusually well-stocked but with the economy collapsing many are too poor to buy.
COLOMBIA -- with years of war giving Colombia one of the highest rates of displacement in the world, WFP feeds half a million people displaced by conflict.
SOURCES: United Nations World Food Programme, UNRWA, Reuters