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Cornell University

Tata-Cornell Institute for Agriculture and Nutrition

The Hunger Metrics Mirage: There’s Been Less Progress on Hunger Reduction Than It Appears


As the timeframe for achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) came to an end in 2015, the United Nations lauded great progress, calling its MDG campaign the “most successful anti-poverty movement in history.” In its final progress report, the United Nations states that poverty has decreased by half and hunger has fallen dramatically. Sixty countries are said to have achieved the hunger-reduction target since 1990. Among the achievers are a strikingly large number of the so-called “least developed countries,” and many of them are the poorest countries of sub-Saharan Africa. There is no doubt that much of the developing world made significant progress in enhancing food supplies and reducing hunger over the past 25 years. However, tracking progress by country and across countries has been marred by the ambiguity of the metrics that have been used.

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