Hunger: The World’s Greatest Solvable Problem

Nearly a billion people go to bed hungry every night. But what would it take to put a stop to this? At WFP, we believe hunger is the world’s greatest solvable problem. 

ROME – With one in seven of the earth’s inhabitants going hungry, hunger is the key global challenge of our time. Apart from the immediate suffering that it causes to the millions without enough food, hunger is also holding back progress on such social issues as health and education.


Hunger Price Tags

tube of lipstick

  • It costs US$10 to feed a boy in a Kenya refugee camp for 3 weeks, less than the cost of a lipstick in Manhattan.
  • It would cost US$3.5 billion to feed every hungry schoolchild in the world. That’s around two times the takings from the movie, “Titanic”, which grossed US$1.8 billion worldwide.
  • It costs  US$50 to feed a schoolgirl for one year;  similar to the cost of one iPod shuffle (US$45)
  • One super-healthy ration of Plumpy’Sup for a small child is just 20 cents, less than a US postage stamp (44 cents).

Yet, no scientific breakthroughs are needed to solve hunger. The knowledge, tools and policies that we have in the world today, combined with political will, can solve this problem.

Progress made by Brazil in recent years is evidence of this. Over the last decade, the Latin American giant reduced the proportion of hungry people by one third, lifted 24 million people out of extreme poverty and cut malnutrition by 25 per cent.

Other countries have also made significant inroads. China and Russia, for example, were both once countries that received WFP food aid. Now they have joined the group of countries that give food to WFP.

In fact, many countries, working with WFP, are already solving hunger, using tried and trusted strategies. 

Here are six of the approaches that we at WFP have seen to be most effective. On the basis of our 50 years of experience, these are at the heart of solving hunger.

1 - Food relief in emergencies
girl hodling two siblings with the youngest eating from a spoonProviding emergency food rations after a man-made or natural disaster can save thousands of lives. It can also safeguard the physical and mental development of children by preventing malnutrition. See photo gallery

2 - Nutrition for under-twos
before and after wfp helped a malnourished childProviding nutritious food to women when they are pregnant or breast-feeding – and to children under the age of two – ensures children can develop healthy minds and bodies.

Meet Sadak in Somalia

3 - Meals for kids in school
group of school childrenProviding free meals for children in school means they get the food they need to concentrate on their lessons. It also means they stay in school, which will help them escape poverty and hunger.

Meet Vera in Cape Verde

4 -Support to small holder farmers

two men picking up hayProviding training and support to smallholder farmers and helping them connect better to markets allows communities to develop more robust food production systems.

Watch the video

5 - Food for training
famiya cooking food for herselfGiving poor women food rations in return for attending training courses, where they learn skills that can help them earn money, gives them a way to support themselves in the years ahead.

Meet Famiya in Democratic Republic of Congo

6 - Food vouchers
afghanistani woman, balquisa, holding a food voucherWhen there is food in the markets, but poor people simply can’t afford it, food vouchers help ensure vulnerable families get the food they need. They also help the local economy.

Meet Balqisa in Afghanistan