2017 Hunger Report arrives week of Thanksgiving

October 12, 2016
Carrying whatever possessions they can, women arrive in a steady trickle at a camp for internally displaced people established next to a base of the African Union Mission for Somalia (AMISOM) near Jowhar. UN photo

By Michele Learner

A year ago, the nations of the world set several of the most wide-reaching and ambitious goals in its history, including ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition within 15 years — by 2030. Bread for the World Institute’s 2017 Hunger Report, to be released Nov. 21 (the Monday before Thanksgiving), takes a closer look at what it will take to end hunger once and for all.

The world has come a long way already. From 2000 to 2015, Bread for the World and our members, along with innumerable other groups and individuals, were strong advocates for the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). The MDG period was the first-ever worldwide effort to improve human lives and further human development. Bread newsletter readers of the time may recall a phrase frequently used to summarize our main focus: “cutting hunger in half by 2015.”

The good news is that, thanks to an unprecedented effort from a wide variety of public and private groups all over the world, the goal was very nearly met by the deadline. It’s an incredible accomplishment when you think of what a complex problem hunger really is — never mind the complications that ensue when any mission, no matter how important or worthwhile, bumps up against all kinds of other priorities, interests, and viewpoints.

The world — and Bread — is not resting on its laurels. The goal of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition is part of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), adopted last year by the United States and 192 other countries.

It was clear from the beginning of the SDG period that, for all its successes in cutting hunger in half, this earlier goal had avoided some of the most difficult problems. Not surprisingly, the half of hunger that was successfully ended was the “easier” half. There were numerous reasons that hungry people fit into the “easier” category.  Some were already well on their way to being able to grow enough food for their families. Some lived in accessible places, with roads that enabled them to run small-market businesses. Some had learned a trade or had another livelihood skill. Whatever the reasons, there were millions of people for whom it was challenging, but ultimately possible, to work their way out of hunger with relatively straightforward support such as training, tools, and supportive government policies.

Now we’re embarking on the harder half of the job. “Leave no one behind” could almost be called a mantra for the SDGs. A lot of the remaining hungry people are still hungry because of conflict. War kills people and destroys infrastructure, communities, businesses, and more. Another group of people — some but not all of whom live in countries affected by conflict — are hungry because climate change, and the extreme weather events that are part of it, is destroying their ability to earn a living or even to survive. Still others are overlooked, whether intentionally or not, by their own governments, which may be too weak or too corrupt to support an economy that offers people opportunities, provide a safety net for those who cannot work, and/or treat people equally under the law.

These situations, the proverbial last mile in ending hunger, are sometimes brought together under the terms fragile state and fragility. The 2017 Hunger Report, titled Fragile Environments, Resilient Communities, will explain what these concepts mean and their implications for ending hunger. It will provide recommendations to help overcome some of the remaining obstacles to reaching the end of hunger — a goal that is obviously challenging, but also very much achievable.

Michele Learner is the associate editor of Bread for the World Institute.

War kills people and destroys infrastructure, communities, businesses, and more. 

from our Resource Library

For Education

  • The Nourishing Effect

    Hunger and food insecurity add at least $160 billion a year to U.S. healthcare costs.

  • The U.S. Contribution to Ending Global Malnutrition

    We have a new opportunity in 2017 to speed up global progress against malnutrition among pregnant women and young children. Worldwide, maternal and child malnutrition causes millions of deaths each year. In some countries, it holds entire generations back from reaching their economic potential....

  • Fact Sheet: Nutrition During Famine

    Famine means that 20 percent or more of the households in an area have “an extreme lack of food and other basic needs where starvation, death, and destitution are evident.”

    Famine has been declared in two counties of South Sudan, while other areas of South Sudan, Nigeria, Somalia, and...

For Faith

  • The Bible on Health as a Hunger Issue

    A brief examination of the biblical approach to health as a hunger issue.

    Includes an introduction to the issue, a Scriptural reflection, practical actions you can take, and a prayer.

  • Bread Newsletter January 2016

    In this issue: Another Great Year for Bread; Catholics Begin Observance of Holy Year of Mercy; Serving on ‘God’s Wave Length’ for 39 Years; and more.

  • Interfaith Religious Leaders’ Pledge to End Hunger

    A wide array of the nation’s faith leaders have come together on the eve of Pope Francis’ arrival in the United States to commit ourselves to encourage our communities to work for the end of hunger by 2030 and, toward that end, for a shift in U.S. national priorities.

    We are deeply pleased...

For Advocacy

  • Grassroots Advocacy Toolkit

    A set of how-to sheets for carrying out advocacy and fact sheets on the current issues Bread for the World is working on.

    For new and current Bread grassroots hunger activists.

    Ideal as a starter toolkit for new Bread activists or as a set of updates for current activists.


  • The State of Black Poverty: A Pan-African Millennial Perspective on Ending Hunger by 2030

    Over the past year and a half, about two-dozen young adults from the United States and countries in Africa and the Caribbean, have gathered virtually and in person to reflect on the effects of hunger and poverty in black communities. The working group has been considering socio-political and...

  • Fact Sheet: The Hunger-Medicaid Connection

    Congress is considering proposals that would jeopardize healthcare coverage for millions of poor and near-poor adults and children. 

    The bill under consideration, the American Health Care Act, would gut...


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