World Hunger and Poverty Facts


  • Nearly 1.1 billion fewer people are living in extreme poverty than in 1990. In 2015, 736 million people lived on less than $1.90 a day, down from 1.85 billion in 1990. (1)
  • Progress is uneven. Poverty rates are rising in Sub-Saharan Africa, where 413 million people live on less than US$1.90 a day, more than all the other regions combined. Elsewhere, the rate of poverty reduction is slowing. (1)
  • Poverty rates are highest among children, particularly among girls. There are 105 girls for every 100 boys living in extreme poverty. (3)
  • Among young adults ages 25 to 34, there are 122 young women for every 100 young men living in extreme poverty. (3)
  • Most of the extreme poor live in rural areas, are poorly educated, and are employed in the agricultural sector. Over half are under 18 years old. (1) 


  • In 2017 there were 821 million hungry people in the world, or 1 in every 9 people (an increase from 804 million in 2016). Hunger has been on the rise over the past three years, returning to levels from a decade ago. (3)
  • In Asia, 515 million are hungry, and progress against hunger is slowing. Africa has the highest prevalence of undernutrition, affecting almost 21 percent of the population, or 256.5 million people. (3)
  • 66 million primary school-age children attend classes hungry across the developing world, with 23 million in Africa alone. (4)  

  • Women are more likely than men to be affected by severe food insecurity in Africa, Asia and Latin America. (3)


  • 2 billion people lack key micronutrients like iron and vitamin A (5)
  • Nutrition-related factors contribute to about 45% of deaths in children under-5 years of age, or the deaths of 2.43 million children. (6)
  • More than 1-in-5 children under five worldwide (151 million children) are affected by stunting (low height-for-age), and more than 50.5 million are affected by wasting (low weight-for-height). (3)
  • Nearly one-third (32.8%) of women of reproductive age are affected by anaemia. (3)
  • Overweight and obesity coexists with malnutrition in many countries. In 2017, one in eight adults – or more than 672 million – was obese, a problem that is most significant in North America, but worsening in Africa and Asia. (3)
  • Past gains made in ending hunger and malnutrition are being eroded conflict,  climate variability, and exposure to more complex, frequent and intense climate extremes. 

Not Just Food - Food Security (3)

Investing in smallholder farmers

Measuring Hunger

  • The Global Hunger Index measures hunger using four factors: (8 & 9)

  1. Undernourishment: The number of people who don’t have enough food to meet their minimum dietary energy requirements. 

  2. Child stunting:  The number of children whose height is significantly low for their age (below the fifth percentile). It is caused by long-term undernutrition and frequent infections and causes damage to the child’s body and brain. Stunting impacts children’s ability to learn and to work in the future.

  3. Child wasting: The number of children whose weight is significantly low for their height. This is a strong predictor of mortality for children under five. It is caused by acute undernutrition and/or disease.   

  4. Child mortality: The number of children who die before the age of 5


  1. The World Bank, Poverty, 2017
  2. The World Bank, Gender differences in poverty and household composition through the lifecycle
  3. FAO, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, 2018
  4. Sustainable Development Goal 2: Hunger and Goal 6: Water
  5. World Health Organization, 2017 Global Nutrition Report
  6. World Health Organization, Children: Reducing Mortality
  7. The World Bank Poverty and Health Brief, Aug 2014
  8. Key Findings from the 2015 Global Hunger Index, IFPRI Blog
  9. Stunting and wasting descriptions from UNICEF MDG1 Review