Regional Situation Analysis
The region as a whole is on track to meet the target on hunger. The
overall proportion of the population that is undernourished decreased from
13% (or 59.4 million people) in the early 1990s to approximately 10% (or
52.9 million) at the beginning of the present decade. At that point,
however, almost two thirds of the population with insufficient access to
food was concentrated primarily in Brazil (15.6 million), Colombia (5.7
million), Mexico (5.2 million), Venezuela (4.3 million) and Haiti (3.8
million). The overall risk of poor nutrition is very high in Central America
and the Andes; however, because countries in these sub regions are relatively
small, the higher risk translates into smaller absolute numbers.
POVERTY AND HUNGER
Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people whose income is less than one dollar a day
Halve, between 1990 and 2015, the proportion of people who suffer from hunger
Prevalence of underweight children under five years of age
Proportion of population below minimum level of dietary energy consumption
* target directly
related to health
Region-wide averages do not
reflect the situation in all countries. Most of the countries that started
out with the highest levels of hunger have not been progressing fast enough
to stay on track towards this target. Even if the region succeeds in meeting
the hunger reduction target, population growth projections indicate that
Latin America and the Caribbean will still have more than 40 million
inhabitants in 2015 that do not have adequate energy intake. Although food
balance sheets may support this assertion, it is doubtful that any
nationally representative surveys that actually measure body mass index
would support this assertion. As the prevalence of low BMI, indicative of
energy deficiencies, are extremely low and usually lower than that expected
in a normal distribution.
Like hunger, under nutrition
(low weight for age) is particularly severe in Central America (El Salvador,
Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua), in some Caribbean countries (Guyana,
Haiti, Saint Vincent and the Grenadines and Suriname), and in Ecuador. In
these countries, 10% or more of the under-five population exhibits low
weight for age. It is important to point out that underweight grossly
underestimates under nutrition as stunting (low height-for-age is double the
prevalence of low weight-for-age and anemia reaches 70% among 6-12
month-olds in many countries.
Hunger results from both
insufficient access to food and a lack of monetary income to acquire this
food. The issue of dietary imbalance, from both a lack of and over
consumption of basic macronutrients, is also predominant in the Region.
Obesity and other pathologies need therefore to be addressed along with the
effect of under nutrition.
As a whole, Latin America and
the Caribbean produces three times as much food as its population needs.
Food insecurity and hunger in the region are caused primarily by the very
low income levels of large sectors of the population. Food access is further
complicated when income inequalities within a country are mixed with
disparities linked to area of residence, geographical isolation, ethnic
group, household characteristics and gender.
In adopting measures to advance
towards the hunger reduction target, policymakers must take their countryís
particular situation into account, including its level of development, its
capacity to produce and import food, the relative prices of food products,
the populationís income levels and the degree of inequality in the
distribution of consumption and in food access. Other factors that should be
considered are the extent to which social groups most likely to suffer from
hunger are geographically isolated, cultural traits that influence diet
(particularly in countries with large indigenous populations) and access to
water and sanitation services.