There comes the moment in the life of every well-nourished child that grows up in a country like ours when they see magazine pictures of starving, most of the time dark-skinned, children of their age, while sitting at the dinner table with a puzzled look upon their face. At this point their parents would then tell them about the injustice in the world.
For the likes of us, hunger only appears in the form of our body signaling us that it is high time we went for lunch, while elsewhere people are dying of it. One out of nine people on this planet — in fact 795 million worldwide — do not have enough to eat, according to statisticians of the UN World Food Programme. However, the number has been shrinking by 216 million ever since 1990.
The most dreadful, deadliest kind of hunger is widespread famines. The last major disaster of this kind took place in Somalia in 2011, with an estimated death toll of 250,000 — almost 5 percent of the nation’s population. However, other historic incidents from the 20th century dwarf this figure. Since 1920 more than 70 million people have died in famines, almost half of which were Chinese falling victim to Mao’s Great Leap Forward into the abyss, while Stalin’s deadly forced collectivization policy, which mostly took place in the territories of today’s Ukraine and Kazakhstan, accounts for another fourth. Between 1920 and 1970, 529 out of 100,000 people worldwide died in famines per decade on average. However, this number shrunk to just 3 out of 100,000 from 2000 to 2009.
In all regions of the world, food safety and availability of calories per capita have tremendously increased over the last 50 years. Despite more and more people populating the earth, there is also more food available per capita than before. Hunger is ‘the world’s biggest problem that is actually solvable’, according to the UN. (It does not say which one is the biggest unsolvable one, though. Climate change perhaps? Or Trump? Other suggestions?)
This post is brought to you in collaboration with German news magazine DER SPIEGEL. The chart and text were first published by German journalist and author Guido Mingels. It is available as a book here. As always, our charts are free to use and share, just quote DER SPIEGEL/Statista as the source and include a backlink to the graphic's URL (this page).