A woman and her child in Mali. They've been supported by Action Against Hunger's community health workers.

World hunger facts

Around the world, we produce more than enough food to feed the global population – but more than 810 million still go to bed hungry every night.

World hunger is on the rise.

Even before the Covid-19 pandemic and conflict in Ukraine, the world was disastrously off track to meet the United Nation’s target of achieving zero hunger by 2030.

Now skyrocketing food prices, failed harvests caused by the climate crisis and the fallout of the Covid-19 pandemic have made it even more challenging to achieve this goal.

This must change.

The world's hungriest countriesAt the Action Against Hunger malnutrition centre, Munira was given therapeutic food to make her feel better

The world's hungriest countries

The latest UN Hunger Hotspots report highlights Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen as the countries with the highest levels of hunger.

Learn more

Facts and figures

  • 30M

    30 million more people were affected by hunger as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

  • 1 in 9

    Globally, one in nine people are hungry or undernourished.

  • 2bn

    2.37 billion people did not have access to enough safe and nutritious food in 2020.

What is hunger?

According to the UN Hunger Report, hunger is the term used to define periods when populations are experiencing severe food insecurity — meaning they go for entire days without eating due to lack of money, food or other resources.

What is the definition of hunger?

Here are some widely accepted definitions of key terms:

  • Hunger is the distress associated with lack of food. The threshold for food deprivation, or undernourishment, is fewer than 1,800 calories per day.
  • Undernutrition goes beyond calories to signify deficiencies in energy, protein, and/or essential vitamins and minerals.
  • Malnutrition refers more broadly to both undernutrition and overnutrition (problems with unbalanced diets).
  • Food security relates to food availability and access. When a person always has enough availability and steady access to safe and nutritious food to maintain an active and healthy life, they’re considered food secure.

Hunger has devastating impacts on children

  • 2.3M

    More than 2 million children die from malnutrition every year.

  • 75%

    Three-quarters of malnourished children under five don’t get the treatment they need.

  • 10,000

    10,000 more children under five could die of malnutrition every month as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.

What causes hunger?

There are many reasons why people experience hunger. We know that conflict, climate change, poor access to healthcare and inequality are all underlying drivers of the hunger crisis.

Climate shocks and extreme weather

The climate crisis is driving a rise in extreme weather around the world, leading to more frequent droughts and floods. These can lead to crop failures and a loss of income for families, which means they struggle to feed their children.


Long and complex conflicts  also affect millions of people around the world. They can lead to the sudden large-scale displacement of people who often end up living in makeshift camps and struggle to make an income.


Poverty and inequality are also leading drivers of hunger and malnutrition. More and more countries have both high levels of hunger in some regions and high levels of obesity elsewhere.

The increasingly unequal distribution of wealth means that many people are missing out on nutritious food and going hungry, even while living in countries experiencing strong economic development.

Often those living in poverty skip meals or consume cheaper and nutrition-poor foods, putting their health at risk.

Gender inequality

Gender inequality also plays a role in driving malnutrition, as women and girls often eat last and least in a household.  A third of all women of reproductive age worldwide suffer from anaemia, caused by iron deficiency. Teenage mothers and their babies can also be particularly vulnerable to malnutrition.


The impact of Covid-19 means 30 million more people around the world are suffering from hunger. While the threat of the pandemic continues, measures to stop the spread of the virus could lead to even greater levels of hunger as food becomes harder to access.

How is Action Against Hunger helping?

We’re an international charity committed to saving the lives of malnourished children and supporting their families to beat hunger.

For over forty years, we’ve led the global movement to end life-threatening hunger for good.

Our work tackles both the cause and effects of hunger – including nutrition and livelihoods programmes and water, sanitation and hygiene projects. We also respond to humanitarian emergencies and are a member of the Disasters Emergency Committee (DEC).

In 2020, we helped more than 25 million people in 46 countries around the world.

More about Action Against Hunger

About us

A boy is screened for malnutrition at an Action Against Hunger treatment centre in Mali.

We save the lives of malnourished children and support their families to beat hunger.

Our impact

A community supported by Action Against Hunger in Tanzania.

Meet the families and communities whose lives have been transformed by our work.

Where we work

A woman walking through a field at an Action Against Hunger project in Mali.

We fight hunger and malnutrition in 46 countries around the world.