The right to food is a basic human right. But hunger is still a reality in many countries, primarily in Sub-Saharan Africa and in South Asia. According to figures from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO), the number of people going hungry decreased by 216 million from 1990 to 2015 but increased again in the following years. According to , up to 828 million people worldwide were chronically undernourished in 2021, which means they ate fewer calories than they need to lead healthy and productive lives. In addition, there are around 2.3 billion people suffering from what is known as “hidden hunger”, i. e. micronutrient deficiencies when they eat too few vitamins and minerals. Particularly in children, deficiencies of essential nutrients often lead to developmental disabilities and delays in development. According to estimates, undernutrition is responsible for 45% of all deaths among children under five years. Acute hunger (undernutrition for a limited period), – usually caused by violent conflicts, droughts or natural disasters – affects more than 190 million people globally (source: ). In addition to undernutrition and micronutrient deficiencies, other forms of malnutrition that interfere with healthy living, such as obesity, are increasing.
Although the majority of food production takes place in rural areas, that is also where the majority of people going hungry live. Small farmers often own too little land and their productivity is limited by factors such as a lack of access to the working capital needed to sufficiently feed their families. In addition, a lack of market access not only limits the opportunity to purchase food at local markets, but also minimises sales opportunities for producers, which can lead to lower incomes. Poverty and hunger are thus closely linked to each other, creating a vicious circle: poverty leads to an unbalanced diet and malnutrition, which compromises health and productivity, which in turn intensifies poverty.
The global community has set out to end hunger by 2030 and achieve security of food supply. However, three global development trends are increasingly jeopardising the fight against hunger: climate change, conflicts and migration, as well as the deterioration of the economic situation in many countries, - not least due to the COVID-19 pandemic – and the increasing inequalities that accompany it. The Ukraine war further exacerbates the situation: Rising food prices as well as supply shortages, especially for cereals, are immediately noticeable and pose a further threat to food security, especially in many countries in the MENA region and in Sub-Saharan Africa. To achieve SDG 2 despite these factors, we need to increase our efforts.
KfW Development Bank is involved in numerous projects all over the world focusing on food security, sustainable agriculture and rural development. The focus of KfW’s commitment is on Sub-Saharan Africa. By promoting irrigation infrastructure, sustainable resource management and strengthening rural finance, local food production can be increased and incomes raised. Investments in rural infrastructure can also help reduce post-harvest losses and strengthening access to markets. In addition to these structural projects, KfW combats hunger and malnutrition in particularly vulnerable population groups through social protection projects or multisectoral aid, for example through cash transfers that can ensure access to food when prices rise. These target groups include women and children, as well as people in situations of crisis or conflict.
Sustainable agriculture plays a key role in combating hunger and malnutrition but is also critical to achieving other SDGs like ending poverty, halting biodiversity loss and climate action. KfW Development Bank has long been committed to a world without hunger. In 2022, new commitments contributing to the achievement of SDG 2 amounted to around EUR 474 million.