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Although the proportion of people suffering from hunger in developing countries has gone down as the overall population has gone up, there are now more hungry people – 820 million – than there were 10 years ago when the World Food Summit (WFS) pledged to cut the number in half by 2015, the United Nations warned today. “Far from decreasing, the number of hungry people in the world is currently increasing at the rate of 4 million a year,” UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Director-General Jacques Diouf said, stressing that meeting the pledge would require cutting the number of undernourished by 31 million every year until 2015. “Today, I am deeply sorry to report that the situation remains intolerable and unacceptable, all the more so because 10 years have passed,” he added at the launch in Rome of his agency’s annual report, The State of Food Insecurity in the World (SOFI), using the terms employed to describe world hunger by the leaders of the 185 countries who took part in the WFS.“Business as usual will not do” and failure to achieve the objective would be “shameful,” Mr. Diouf declared. The target of slashing the number of malnourished to 412 million is still attainable if concrete and concerted action is taken, such as focussing on poverty hotspots, enhancing the productivity of smallholder agriculture, and creating conditions for private investment, including transparency and good governance, SOFI said.Such measures would also include making world trade work for the poor, with safety nets put in place for vulnerable groups, and a rapid increase in the level of Official Development Assistance (ODA) to 0.7 percent of gross domestic product (GDP) as promised. “We must step up dramatically our efforts to reach the WFS hunger reduction target. If the political will is there we can reach it,” the report concluded.According to SOFI, today’s estimated 820 million undernourished people represent a marginal reduction of 3 million as against the 1990-1992 WFS baseline of 823 million, but a 20-million increase when measured against the 1996 world total of 800 million.One in five people in developing countries were undernourished in 1990-92, and this has gone down to 17 percent. Projections suggest there could be a further drop to 10 percent in the next nine years.“This means that the world is on a path towards meeting the Millennium Development Goal (MDG) on hunger reduction,” the report said, referring to targets set by the UN Millennium Summit of 2000. But the total number in 2015 is projected at 582 million, 170 million short of the WFS target. More than half of these hungry people would be concentrated in South and East Asia, with 203 million and 123 million respectively. Sub-Saharan Africa would be home to 179 million hungry – more than double the WFS target. In sub-Saharan Africa, “the task facing the region remains daunting,” SOFI said. There are currently 206 million hungry – nearly 40 million up from the 1990-92 baseline.The report was released within the framework of a week-long session of FAO’s Committee on World Food Security (CFS), which is being attended by ministers from some of the world’s poorest and richest countries.