by Alessandra Cardone
ROME, Sept. 15 (Xinhua) -- World hunger in 2016 was on the rise again after over a decade, due to the combining effect of conflicts and climate change, the United Nations food health agencies declared in a report released here Friday.
The estimated number of undernourished people increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016, according to the report titled "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World".
The prevalence of hunger in the global population rose from 10.6 percent in 2015 to 11 percent in 2016.
This was the first annual rise in the number of undernourished since 2003, when the world registered a record 947.2 million people hungry (14.9 percent) from 936.3 million the previous year.
"One out of nine people went to bed hungry every day in 2016, and this has happened just two years after all countries committed to eradicating hunger and extreme poverty by 2030," Jose Graziano Da Silva, director general of Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), told a news conference.
"This is the price we are paying for recession, conflicts, and climate change altogether," the FAO chief added.
Overall, Africa was the continent hardest hit in terms of prevalence, with some 20 percent of its population hungry in 2016, and a peak of 33.9 percent in eastern Africa. It was followed by Asia with 11.7 percent, and Latin American and the Caribbean with 6.6 percent.
In terms of number, however, about 520 million out of the overall 815 million undernourished in the world lived in Asian countries.
The report pointed at wars and climate-related events as two key drivers behind the new rise.
"More than half of those hungry in 2016 -- some 489 million people -- lived in countries affected by conflicts, which have rapidly become more numerous, increasingly in tandem with droughts, floods and other climate-related shocks," the paper stated.
Officials at the press conference acknowledged the impressive results against global hunger in the last decades: the number of undernourished was cut by some 216 million in about 25 years (2015 FAO statistics), while global population grew from over 5 billion to over 7 billion.
Conflicts and climate change would feed each, creating a negative spiral. "The concurrence of conflict and climate-related disasters is likely to increase with climate change," the UN report said.
For the first time this year, the "State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World" report was drafted by five UN agencies, with UN Children's Fund (UNICEF) and World Health Organization (WHO) joining Rome-based UN food agencies FAO, WFP, and International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).