World Disasters Report 2011

Focus on hunger and malnutrition

“ Hunger and malnutrition are the worst enemies of humankind. They deny to children – even at birth – an opportunity for the full expression of their innate genetic potential for physical and mental development. Freedom from hunger is the first requisite for sustainable human security. This will depend upon the productivity, profitability and sustainability of agriculture, as this edition of the World Disasters Report points out. Therefore, if food and nutrition policies go wrong, nothing else will have a chance to go right."
– M. S. Swaminathan, Member of Parliament, India; Chairman, M.S. Swaminathan Research Foundation

This year’s World Disasters Report focuses on the growing crisis of hunger and malnutrition. Smallholder farmers who produce half the world’s food are among the almost 1 billion people who go to bed hungry every night. Millions of children suffer the irreversible effects of undernutrition. Increasing food insecurity weakens people’s resilience to disasters and disease, and people everywhere are experiencing the increasing volatility of food prices.

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This report analyses the causes and impacts of such vulnerability at community, national and international levels – during and after emergencies, and from a longer-term perspective. It examines the challenges of the globalized nature of food-related vulnerabilities, and the need for a cross-disciplinary approach. The report acknowledges the complexities involved, that the issues of global food security, hunger and malnutrition go to the core of virtually all the major components of the functioning of the international system, from international trade to climate change, from water scarcity to scientific innovation. What political action is needed to reform a failing global food system unlikely to provide sufficient food for a population projected to rise to 9 billion by 2050?

The report by chapters

Reworking the global food system
Although the world produces enough food to feed everyone, in 2011 almost 1 billion children, men and women go to bed hungry every night. Millions of these, particularly young children, suffer the dire effects of undernutrition. Read chapter 1

Stunted lives: the disaster of undernutrition
Every year some 9 million children across the world die before they reach their fifth birthday, and about one-third of these untimely deaths is attributed to undernutrition (Black et al., 2008). Read chapter 2

Continued price instability questions reliance on global food markets
In outlining the impact of price volatility on food insecurity and hunger, this chapter argues that higher food prices can be explained by a number of intertwined factors such as slowing growth in food production, lower stock levels or financial speculation. Read chapter 3

Achieving livelihood stability through agriculture and social protection
We have become used to doomsday narratives about rising populations, environmental disaster and declining yields among small farms in Africa and elsewhere in low- and middle-income countries. Read chapter 4

Responding to food insecurity and malnutrition in crises
This chapter briefly reviews the changing nature of the humanitarian response to food security and nutrition crises. Major effort has been invested in improving analysis and the range of response options is now much broader than it was only ten years ago. Read chapter 5

Getting it right –united against hunger:
a manifesto for change
What policies and partnerships are needed from governments, donors and global institutions to strengthen the world food system and eradicate hunger and malnutrition? Read chapter 6

Opinion piece - Press release

A world of hunger amid plenty

Among the ever-widening range of critical issues facing us today, few keep me awake at night ...


The world’s poorest people are at serious risk from rocketing food prices and volatile global ...

Hard copies

Unfortunately there are no more hard copies available of the WDR 2011.

WDR 2012

Theme for the World Disasters Report 2012 is forced migration. The report will be launched in mid-October.
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