* U.N. agencies estimate 842 mln people going hungry
* Goal of halving hunger by 2015 may be missed
By Agnieszka Flak
MILAN, Oct 1 One in eight people around the
world is chronically undernourished, the United Nations' food
agencies said on Tuesday, warning world leaders that some
regions would fail in halving the number of hungry by 2015.
In their latest report on food insecurity, the U.N. agencies
estimated that 842 million people were suffering chronic hunger
in 2011-13, or 12 percent of the world's population, down 17
percent from 1990-92.
The new figure was lower than the last estimate of 868
million in 2010-12 and 1.02 billion in 2009, but the report said
progress in meeting the Millennium Development Goal to halve the
prevalence of hunger in the world by 2015 was uneven.
Many countries were unlikely to meet the goal adopted by
world leaders at the United Nations in 2000, said the Food and
Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP)
and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
"Those (countries) that have experienced conflict during the
past two decades are more likely to have seen significant
setbacks in reducing hunger," the report said.
"Landlocked countries face persistent challenges in
accessing world markets, while countries with poor
infrastructure and weak institutions face additional
FAO, WFP and IFAD define undernourishment, or hunger, in the
State of Food Insecurity in the World 2013 report as "not having
enough food for an active and healthy life" and an inability to
"meet dietary energy requirements".
Policies aimed at boosting agricultural productivity and
food availability were crucial in reducing hunger even where
poverty was widespread, the agencies said.
"When they are combined with social protection and other
measures that increase the incomes of poor families to buy food,
they can have an even more positive (effect) and spur rural
development," they said.
Remittances, three times larger than official development
assistance, have had a significant impact on food security by
leading to better diets and reduced hunger, they said.
The vast majority of people suffering hunger, or 827
million, live in developing countries, where the prevalence of
undernourishment is estimated at 14.3 percent, the report found.
Africa remains the region with the highest prevalence of
undernourishment, with more than one in five people estimated to
be undernourished, while most of the undernourished people are
in southern Asia.
(Reporting by Agnieszka Flak, editing by Elizabeth Piper)