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Ending world hunger is within reach: Study finds it will cost only USD 11 billion more a year

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ROME—October 17, 2016—Ending world hunger is within reach, according to a new study that found it will cost USD 11 billion a year to feed hundreds of millions of needy people.

Donors will need to provide USD 4 billion of the total—a 45 per cent increase over current spending of USD 8.6 billion on global hunger programs—based on the traditional share of donor spending in developing countries.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) joined forces to estimate what it would cost to end hunger by 2030. The research was supported by the New Venture Fund.

The aim was to determine how much donors would need to spend in order to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal adopted by world leaders in September 2015.

The results will be presented Friday in Rome at CFS 43, a meeting of the UN’s Committee on Food Security. Information about the event is available here and the policy paper can be downloaded here.

The IISD and IFPRI analysis focused on the cost of ending hunger through increased spending on social safety nets directly targeting consumers, farm support to expand production and increase poor farmers’ income, and rural development that reduces inefficiencies along the value chain and enhances productivity in rural areas. 

“The benefits go far beyond just filling bellies,” said study author Livia Bizikova, director of IISD’s Knowledge Program. “Not only will there be better educational outcomes and a healthier workforce, but the money spent to end hunger—which includes investments in roads, new technologies and rural infrastructure—will spur much-needed economic development.”

The study estimates that an extra USD 5 billion in private investment will be generated every year from the additional public spending. 

IISD and IFPRI designed a first-of-its kind economic model that uses household survey data to understand in detail the impact of a wide range of investments on the consumption and production of major food items.

 “We know how to end hunger, and our analysis demonstrates that—with the right mix of investments—it can be achieved quickly,” said Carin Smaller, an advisor on agriculture and investment at IISD. “Ending hunger is both achievable and affordable.”

The IFPRI-IISD model is the first time the cost of ending hunger has been examined using household data. This breaks new ground because the model was able to target hungry households and prioritize investments to their needs and living conditions. For example, countries with hungry urban populations were given more food stamps, and those with hungry rural populations were given more farm support and rural infrastructure.

“The granularity of our model increases efficiencies and reduces spending, thereby reducing the overall cost of ending hunger,” said David Laborde, study author and senior research fellow at IFPRI.

“The model integrates the key economic, social and environmental factors that affect agriculture, thereby providing a robust quantitative framework for estimating costs.”

The costs identified are lower than many previous estimates for a number of reasons beyond efficiencies and better targeting. The model uses the FAO’s definition of hunger, which determines that a country has ended hunger when more than 95 per cent of the population is able to consume a sufficient number of calories. Closing the final hunger gap—something the world’s wealthiest countries have not yet achieved—is also costlier and complex.

Ministers from Africa welcomed the results.

Dr. George Chaponda, Minister of Agriculture, Irrigation and Water Development from Malawi, said:

“We successfully implemented a voucher scheme over the last 10 years, which provides seeds and fertilizers to small farmers to improve productivity and food security. At least four independent evaluators found convincing evidence of positive impacts on household. We know this works but we cannot keep the program going without help. This report shows how affordable it really is to end hunger by 2030."

H.E. Njama Nango Dembélé, Minister for Livestock and Fisheries from Mali said:

"Land reforms in countries such as Malawi, Brazil and Bolivia, have shown very positive effects on hunger, especially when working with communities and strengthening customary land rights. Mali has just implemented its own land reform process including a new land law that integrates pastoral land rights. We need more support to help implement this law and maximize the potential to end hunger."

For more information, contact Damon Vis-Dunbar at dvis-dunbar@iisd.org or +41 78 818 0501 (in Geneva, Switzerland) or Mira Oberman at moberman@iisd.ca or +1 204 958-7700 ext 728 (in Winnipeg, Canada).


About the International Institute for Sustainable Development

Established in 1990, the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) is a non-partisan, charitable organization specializing in policy research and analysis, and information exchange. Through their head office in Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada and their branches in Ottawa, New York, and Geneva, the Institute champions sustainable development around the world through innovation, partnerships, research and communications. It is dedicated to engaging decision-makers in business, government, non-government organizations and academia on issues around economic and legal frameworks, energy and climate change, water, resilience, and knowledge.

For more information, please contact: Sumeep Bath at sbath@iisd.ca or +1 (204) 958 7700 ext. 740

IISD contributes to sustainable development by advancing policy recommendations on international trade and investment, economic policy, climate change and energy, natural and social capital, and the enabling role of communication technologies in these areas.