Hunger Report 2000 Executive Summary

Bread for the World Institute
Hunger Reports
A Program to End Hunger
10th annual report on the state of world hunger

800 Million Hungry in World as 21st Century Begins


Ending Global Hunger


"The failure to end hunger has been the 20th century's greatest moral blind spot," says Rev. Beckmann. "People are hungry because they are poor, because political systems do not function properly, because of wars or because people belong to oppressed ethnic and racial groups. But we do not have to end all these problems to end hunger."

From 1981 to 1992, the countries of East and Southeast Asia reduced the number of undernourished people at the average rate of 12.4 million people per year, with approximately 34,000 people per day moving out of hunger. Yet these remarkable gains were threatened by authoritarian government, cronyism and corruption, which contributed to Asia's financial crisis in 1997-98. The crisis pushed an estimated 200 million additional people into poverty, temporarily reversing a decade's worth of progress against hunger. In Indonesia and elsewhere, food riots and popular protests for political reforms underscore the need for transparent, participatory government institutions.

To provide some perspective on the cost of tackling global hunger, when the Y2K computer crisis emerged, the U.S. government saw it as an emergency and spent more than $8 billion. U.S. corporations spent $50 billion on the threat, and the world spent more than $500 billion. In comparison, for just $5 billion a year domestically and $1 billion internationally the US government could make a visible difference in the real, immediate problem of hunger both at home and around the world.