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New update: number of people living in hunger on the rise

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The number of people living in hunger is again on the rise.

After a long period of decline, this is now the fifth year in a row that the number of people living in hunger is increasing. The 2020 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report released in July 2020 explores the ongoing rise in global hunger. Since the world committed to ending food insecurity and malnutrition in 2015, global hunger has steadily increased. While previous reports have focused on climate and economic barriers, this year’s report focuses on broadening the scope of food security and nutrition to include diets which are healthy and sustainable for all, especially for our environment.

Last year, SOFI reported 821.6 million people living in hunger. This year it is reporting 690 million living in hunger.

At first glance, this looks like a downward trend. This difference is due to a different use of data from China between 2000 and now. According to the new data from the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), there is actually a significant increase. Once we’ve considered China’s data accuracy, the number of hungry people in the rest of the world continues to climb.



5 facts about world hunger:

  1. 690 million people (1 in 11) in the world are chronically hungry, while 750 million people (1 in 10) are living in severe food insecurity.
  2. Asia is home to 381 million hungry people, Africa 250 million and Latin America and the Caribbean report 48 million people.
  3. In total, 2 billion people live every day with some form of food insecurity or hunger.
  4. There are nearly 60 million more undernourished people now than in 2014.
  5. If this trend continues, more than half of the hungry people will live in Africa by 2030 — the year by which we’re working to end hunger.

The effect of hunger on children

Hunger is about more than just undereating. Nutritious food is still too expensive and insufficiently available for many families. As many as 3 billion people worldwide do not have access to enough healthy foods such as fruit and vegetables.

47 million children have a permanent growth delay as a result, 144 million children are seriously disadvantaged, and more than 38 million children are overweight due to one-sided, incorrect nutrition.

COVID-19 could result in an additional 132 million people living in hunger.

Because the research took place last year, the impact of COVID-19 has not been included in these figures. The FAO estimates that the pandemic will force an additional 83 to 132 million people to live in hunger every day. The Hunger Project is therefore committed to working with 500,000 trained local volunteers in 13 countries so that as many people as possible can protect themselves and their families against COVID-19 and avoid falling below the poverty line. Read more about our COVID-19 response here.

Together, we can end hunger.

The Hunger Project still believes that we can drastically reverse this upward trend through continuing to run our programs that address hunger holistically and create sustainable change. Investment in the end of hunger is crucial to continue our program work and enable people to lift themselves, their families and communities out of hunger. You can find out more about our work here and invest in ending hunger here.

The  2020 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World  report is a publication of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Program ( WFP) and World Health Organisation (WHO).

Meet Mr. Henderson

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We met Mr. Henderson on the Unlock Leadership Immersion Program in Malawi in November 2019.  

 Mr Henderson is 22 years old and is from Nsondole Epicentre. After receiving training from an Animator (local volunteer leader) trained by The Hunger Project, Mr Henderson began planting seeds in his garden.  

 Now, he proudly grows beans, peas, Chinese vegetables and tomatoes. Mr Henderson also sells the surplus vegetables that he has grown so that he can earn an income.  

“The Hunger Project taught me to plant different vegetables, so it gives my family different nutrients and we do not live in hunger. Now I don’t need to buy vegetables from other people”, he said.  

Mr. Henderson has also become a Nutrition Animator because he is passionate about passing on what he learnt to other community members including how to grow your own nutritious food and how to make compost manure.  

Mr Henderson’s garden acts as a demonstration for his neighbours and community that they too, can transform their lives.    

Thanks to you, we far exceeded our COVID-19 fundraising goal.

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You reached out and helped raise $302,345!

We asked you to stay in to activate The Hunger Project’s 500,000 highly trained community leaders on the ‘village frontlines’ of this pandemic to reach out to 16.5 million people in their communities. Your generosity truly blew us away! Collectively, you invested an incredible $302,345. At a time where we know you are all navigating your own challenges, you were expansive in your thinking and actions, and gave what you could to enable others to protect themselves and their families. We thank you for that.

We are so proud to say that your generosity combined with the leadership of our village partners created outstanding results. Your investment, together with investments from all around the world, enabled our local volunteer leaders to quickly mobilise their communities and respond to COVID-19 with ingenuity and strength. They didn’t take on a victim mindset or wait for help to come from outside sources; instead, due to years of training with THP, they adopted a leader mindset and were empowered to take action themselves.

Together here’s what our village partners achieved:



  • 4,354 Tippy Taps installed in villages to bring simple handwashing stations close to the homes of people. Animators (local volunteer leaders) have led the education and training in how to properly use them.
  • 8,000 Elected Women and 3,600 Adolescent Girls trained by THP formed phone trees and What’s App groups to deliver accurate, easy-to-understand health information to 500,000 people.
  • 9,400 community members participated in specially designed Water, Sanitation and Hygiene workshops so they are personally equipped to prevent the spread.
  • 137,160 face masks made and distributed – ‘sewing armies’ have been set up in some areas to learn from one another and keep collectively strong while giving back.
  • 97,465 food rations distributed to those who have been identified by Elected Women as on the brink of absolute destitution. Although THP usually has a ‘No handouts’ policy, this new idea was put forward by Elected Women who saw the dire need in their villages.
  • 135,709 public health leaflets distributed. These have often been translated into local languages or the information is shown in pictures, so that as many people as possible can understand them.



Thank you to everyone who brought this campaign to life and made it such a success. We couldn’t have done it without you.


Our generous partners and supporters:

Bared Footwear
Business Chicks
Coffees and Style
Conexus Financial 
Diane Grady & Chris Komor
Elizabeth McIntyre
Got You Girl
Hamilton Locke
Hey Tiger
Roger Massy-Greene

Ruby PR Agency 
Simon Blackburn & Niamh Brosnan
Social Diary 
Studio 10 
The Beeren Foundation
The Brand Brigade
The Fit Foodie
The Protter Family
Ticker TV 
Urban List 
Wellness in Real Life

This #StayInReachOut campaign has once again proved to us that when like-minded and like-hearted people come together to make a difference in the world, anything is possible. Your partnership – especially at this time – means so much to us. Thank you for being part of the global THP community!

Ending hunger is our responsibility

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Words by Irene Ssentongo, Head of Programs at The Hunger Project Uganda.

The 2019 Global Hunger Index (GHI) indicates that the level of hunger and undernutrition worldwide falls within the moderate and serious categories. With a score of 30.6, Uganda suffers from a level of hunger that is classified as serious. Uganda produces more food than it consumes, yet stunting in children under five years stands at 29%.

Food is fundamental to human dignity and no human being can sustainably live on food aid. Families all around the world must be empowered to sustainably produce and consume nutritious food for their wellbeing. Why has hunger persisted in Uganda? Victor Hugo, a French poet and novelist said, “There is nothing as powerful as an idea whose time has come.” Ending hunger is not about finding more solutions nor doing something more. It is not about inventing new solutions nor is it about doing nothing. It is about causing the end of hunger on this planet by thinking out of the box.

There are unwritten laws that determine the persistence of hunger. These same laws keep people from working. It is also true that the principles that govern the end of hunger and poverty are the very principles that motivate people to get up and work. To better understand these hidden laws and principles one needs to examine and understand human nature specifically the unconscious assumptions and beliefs that shape our responses to the problem of hunger.

The first assumption relates to scarcity. We tend to perceive the world from the scarcity mindset. We have been raised to believe that everything of value is scarce and, therefore, needs to be safeguarded lest you lose it all. Food is not scarce, it is just the mindset that believes in the idea of scarcity.

The second assumption relates to inevitability. We perceive different conditions in the world as being inevitable. Many people believe that a fraction of the population will always be hungry irrespective of the efforts to free themselves.

Thirdly is the assumption of no solution. Many may ask, what should I do? Or there is nothing much I can do about the situation. We assume there is no solution to the problem of persistent hunger.

However, there are principles we can follow. The first principle is contextualisation. Ending hunger can only be realised when the state of its existence is transformed from just focusing on the solution to analysing the intention behind the solution. In creating a context, people get to answer the question, “Why am I choosing this course of action?”

Ending hunger calls for personal responsibility. You have to be fully involved in order to become the centre of influence. This is also a question of human dignity. As human beings we are born with a natural and spontaneous sense of responsibility. When we awaken this sense of personal responsibility, we birth the idea of ending hunger.

You cannot end hunger by just playing your part. There is no ‘part’, but the whole. One needs to commit fully to making the idea work. Hunger is not just the mere absence of food, but also an empowerment issue. Addressing the whole not just the parts is creating the context through which the end of hunger and poverty in the world will be achieved.

Lastly is the principle of transformation. Sustainable Development Goal two predicts an end of hunger by 2030. When we take a look back 10 years from now at how hunger ended, it will not seem as if miracles happened.

Everyone involved in this struggle will know how it all happened. They will point back to events that were pivotal in making this dream a reality. Transformative changes happen when people become more open-minded, intentional and committed to ending world hunger. Ending hunger is everyone’s responsibility. It is not only the solutions out there that will ignite change, but also the intentions behind whatever solutions we seek in the process.

Be part of the whole and invest in the end of hunger here.

Meet Cheikh Diouf.

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Originally published by The Hunger Project Nederland

Cheikh Diouf from Ndié has been a member of the grain bank at Ndereppe Epicentre, Senegal, since the start of 2006. He has also become a member of the newly established farmers’ association. This has enabled him to provide his family with enough food.

“I have learnt and improved on my sowing technique and get good seeds from the grain bank. The yield from my country has increased enormously! I now harvest a greater amount with less time investment and less land. I used to grow millet on four hectares of land — now I only need two hectares. On the remaining two hectares I can grow peanuts and beans, some for my family and some for sale. ”

Cheikh Dioud, member of the grain bank - Senegal - Ndereppe - Johannes Odé - 300x300In his house, Cheikh has six barrels of millet — a few in the storehouse and a few in the bedroom.

“I have enough supplies at home to feed my family. I have two women, nine children and many grandchildren living with me. One barrel, which holds 250 kilos, can last three months. With the six we have enough millet to get through the year! I don’t have to buy millet at the grain bank, but it is good that this facility is present for others. ”

As an Animator (local volunteer leader) with The Hunger Project, Cheikh provides information about sowing techniques and food security to his fellow villagers. He is also a member of the food security village committee.

“Being a member of the grain bank has enabled so much for me. I no longer have any problems feeding my family. My fellow villagers and I have more knowledge about agriculture, and the village has gained a greater sense of community and solidarity.”

Taking action towards the global goals

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Five years ago, world leaders agreed on 17 global goals to be achieved by 2o3o.

Now that it’s 2020, we have one decade left to take action as a collective and achieve the global goals to end poverty, fix inequality and fight climate change.

We will continue focusing on making an impact on hunger and poverty through empowering women, mobilising communities and fostering effective partnerships.

These are just a few examples of how we are working towards the global goals:

  • Zero Hunger — Every program we run with our village partners in Africa, India and Bangladesh is working towards the ultimate goal of ending chronic hunger by 2030. We see people living in hunger as the solution, not the problem, and empower them with the skills, resources and knowledge they need to break the cycle of hunger and poverty themselves through a number of various programs. Find out more about the programs we run here.
  • Gender Equality — One fundamental pillar to our work is empowering women. Studies show that when women are empowered, all of society benefits. When women earn an income, they invest this on their families on things like health, education and food, therefore lifting themselves and their families out of hunger and breaking the cycle for generations to come.
  • Clean Water and Sanitation — Many communities that we work in have limited/no access to fresh water sources or basic sanitation and hygiene facilities. Through our program called WASH (Water, Sanitation and Hygiene), The Hunger Project promote the use of hygiene and sanitation services and are establishing safe water sources across communities and in schools.
  • Quality Education — Education is crucial to create opportunities for everyone. By empowering people with an education, they are mobilised to take action towards creating communities that will one day be self-reliant.The Hunger Project conducts various activities that promote education such as running literacy workshops or conducting workshops about various topics such as finance or nutrition in Africa, training Elected Women Representatives in India so they can create change in their communities, and improving facilities at schools, the negative impact of child marriage and empowering girls to go to school in Bangladesh.
  • Good Health and Wellbeing — All Epicentre buildings in the African communities we work in include a health clinic that provides crucial services to the community. The Hunger Project also runs multiple workshops to promote and improve the health and wellbeing of people, such as nutrition, sex education and HIV/AIDS workshops.

Guided by the goals, it is up to all of us to create a better future for the world.


How The Hunger Project is working to combat climate change.

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The Hunger Project’s mission is to end hunger by 2030 through sustainable, holistic solutions. Due to climate change, levels of people living in hunger have been on the rise since 2015. Understanding how climate change affects the communities where we work is critical to provide the resources and capacity-building needed to better prepare the communities to respond to climate risks.

Climate change and poverty reduction are intertwined. The vast majority of people in hunger live in rural regions. They rely heavily on agriculture and their well-being closely tied to the natural environment. They are especially vulnerable to extreme weather events like droughts and flooding, which are often exacerbated by climate change. Weather-related events linked to climate change affect food availability in many countries and contribute to the rise in food insecurity. Climate-related events can limit food accessibility and availability through a number of channels. Drought is especially dangerous to communities as it diminishes livestock and agricultural productivity, thus instigating more broadly held grievances.

Improving environmental and climate resilience in rural communities is crucial to our work. We empower the communities we work in with the tools, skills and resources they need to adapt to climate risks and protect their future through our Climate Resilience program. This includes working on environmental sustainability, sustainable agriculture, climate adaption and risk management. These are some of the initiatives that we work on with our village partners.

Promote sustainable farming practices

At our epicentres in Africa, partners create community farms where villagers learn composting, intercropping and other methods to improve crop yields, restore soil fertility and make the best use of scarce resources.

Increase access to sustainable agriculture technology

The Hunger Project provides training and credit, mobilising people to adopt sustainable agricultural technology and practices, and encouraging them to demand agricultural extension services from their government.

Raise awareness of and build capacity to adapt to climate change

In India, The Hunger Project and its partners hold workshops to build our partners’ capacity to exercise leadership, take steps to reduce their vulnerability and formulate strategies to mitigate climate change risks. At the regional and international level, we also advocate for the conservation of natural resources, the mitigation of the harmful effects of extractive industries, and the recovery and promotion of traditional knowledge and technology that is highly adaptable to changing climate conditions.

Facilitate reforestation and tree-planting campaigns

Throughout our program countries, trained village partners establish tree nurseries to reforest their communities and control soil erosion. These can also become entrepreneurial village businesses, supplying families with fruit trees that not only capture carbon but also provide nutrition and income.

Form Climate Committees

Along with training all of our Animators (local volunteer leaders) on climate change in their communities, Climate Committees are formed across our epicentres in Africa. These committees are made up of at least 50% women as well as youth participants who lead activities, promote and create partnerships, support farmers to adapt to changes and help produce and review the communities action plan against climate change.

The communities we work with have proven their resilience in the face of harsh conditions time and time again and, equipped with the right tools, will continue to do so. 


Our year in numbers

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Our year in numbers around the world



  • 15.9 million people reached across 12,900 communities
  • 41 Epicentre communities now self-reliant – home to 700,000 people!
  • 444,000 Animators trained to lead change in their communities
  • $80 million savings in our Microfinance loan program in Africa
  • 1 million children vaccinated against preventable diseases
  • See more in our 2018 Annual Report 


Our year in numbers in Australia



  • Through the #OpenForBusiness Christmas campaign, the funds raised could provide 1,946 women with microfinance loans and financial literacy training
  • Over 25 events around Australia, including 4 Animator Collective events in QLD, WA, NSW and VIC
  • 38 Animators went on 3 Leadership Immersion Programs  to experience our work
  • 12 partners participated in our Unleashed campaign raising $108,000 to educate and empower women so they can end hunger for themselves, their families and their communities
  • 29 people served on our Boards including 9 people who joined our new Youth Board
  • 5 Australian-funded Epicentre communities reached Self-Reliance — Sanar (Senegal), Mbale (Uganda), Chokwe (Mozambique), Wurib (Ethiopia) and Bougue (Burkina-Faso)


Faces of The Hunger Project



Behind each of these numbers is our global community of people working within their own communities for the end of hunger. Here are the top five stories of people we want to share:

Stella’s Story.

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We will never forget the look on Stella’s face when she described having no choice but to marry off her 14-year old grand-daughter, Emilida, to keep the other three children in her care alive. Stella’s eyes were heavy. The shame she felt was etched on her face. No choice. What would you do? Save three children or potentially lose four?

Stella’s daughter and son-in-law had died of HIV and Stella had taken on the care of their children. Suddenly, she had four children she couldn’t afford to raise.

Stella’s grand-daughter, Emilida, was married off at 14 to a man twice her age. One day, while Emilida was at the markets, she was approached by two Women’s Empowerment Animators (local volunteer leaders) trained by The Hunger Project. The Animators asked Emilida why she wasn’t at school and why she was so dirty. After confiding in them about her marriage, the Animators and Emilida returned to her Grandmother’s house and spoke to her about the negative impact of child marriage and the importance of education. The group decided that it was time to take action.

They went to the village chief and had Emilida’s marriage annulled.

The Women’s Empowerment Animators empowered Stella with the knowledge and resources she needed to transform her family’s life. Now, Stella farms maize and sells firewood to earn an income. She re-enrolled Emilida in school and is an advocate for girls education.  Stella has also become a Women’s Empowerment Animator, so that she can empower other women and girls in her community.

Emilida’s vision is to one day become a teacher so that, she too can empower others through education.

This is not a story of despair. This is a story of hope, courage, transformation and possibility for the future. Leadership is not about having influence or power. Leadership is having a clear vision and having the determination, courage and passion to achieve it.

Find out more about our Leadership Immersion Programs.

The Dr. Badiul Majumdar Series: How We Shift Mindsets

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This is the third video in our special series with Dr. Badiul Majumdar, Country Director of The Hunger Project Bangladesh.

He discusses how The Hunger Project shifts mindsets of people living in hunger from one of dependency to empowerment through our Vision, Commitment, Action workshops.


Video credit: 

Invest in a hunger-free Bangladesh here.

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