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Fewer hungry people worldwide, says UN report

The number of hungry people around the world has dropped to below 800 million for the first time. According to an annual UN report, East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean have made the most progress.

The report, issued by the UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said that there are now 795 million people worldwide suffering from hunger, 216 million fewer than at the beginning of the 1990s.

The UN agency says countries in East Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean were the most successful in reducing hunger through investments in agriculture and political stability and by not excluding the poor in economic growth.

The progress happened despite a growth in the global population by 1.9 billion people since 1990 and despite ongoing conflicts and natural disasters across the globe.

In the developing world, the prevalence of undernourishment has declined to 12.9 percent of the population, down from 23.3 percent 25 years ago, the report found. But sub-Saharan Africa still has the highest level of undernourishment in the world - almost one in four people there do not have access to enough food.

Of the 129 countries monitored by the FAO, 72 have achieved the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target of halving undernourishment by this year, and developing regions as a whole only missed the objective by a narrow margin.

"The near-achievement of the MDG hunger targets shows us that we can indeed eliminate the scourge of hunger in our lifetime," said FAO Director General Jose Graziano da Silva. "We must be the zero-hunger generation."

ng/msh (AP, AFP)

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