10/24/2016 01:45 EDT | Updated 10/24/2016 01:45 EDT

Can We End Hunger By 2030?

World Map of Grain on Plate
Great divide Photography via Getty Images
World Map of Grain on Plate

By Livia Bizikova, Carin Smaller, David Laborde and Tess Lallemenat

Over the last 25 years, the number of people suffering from hunger dropped by 50%. Yet, in 2015, there were still 800 million people suffering from hunger in developing countries -- this amounts to twice the population of the entire North American continent.

The most effective way to reduce hunger in developing countries is poverty reduction and economic growth. Other specific measures require direct support for food production, improving infrastructure and access to services in areas affected by poverty and securing tenure rights so people maintain their livelihoods.

Money to pay for these measures can come from the governments of developing countries and/or as donor investments through official development assistance (ODA). Here we face a challenge as ODA for agriculture has been going slowly since 1985s from G7 countries. Even the recent commitment in 2015, from the G7 countries, to help 500 million people address hunger and malnutrition was not supported by financial pledge.

What would it take to end hunger by 2030? 2030 is the year to meet the sustainable development goals. Of the SDGs, goal number 2 aims at zero hunger.

Using global United Nations population projections it is expected that there could be 1.1 billion people suffering of hunger in 2030.

First, just taking into account the scenarios of moderate economic growth, 600 million people will be lifted from poverty. The remaining people require additional investments.

The International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD) and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) estimated the costs of these additional investments needed to end hunger. The IISD and IFPRI analysis focused on the cost of ending hunger through increased spending on social safety nets directly targeting consumers, farm support to expand production and increase poor farmers' income, and rural development that reduces inefficiencies along the value chain and enhances productivity in rural areas.

The developed model to estimate the costs is a first-of-its kind economic model that uses household survey data to understand in detail the impact of a wide range of investments on the consumption and production of major food items.

According to this new study, it will cost USD 11 billion a year of additional investments till 2030 to feed the people suffering from hunger. This means 40 percent increase over current spending of USD 8.6 billion on global hunger programs--based on the traditional share of donor spending in developing countries.

The benefits go far beyond just ending hunger, but not only there will be better educational outcomes and a healthier workforce, but the money spent to end hunger -- which includes investments in roads, new technologies and rural infrastructure -- will spur much-needed economic development.

The costs identified in this study are lower than many previous estimates for a number of reasons beyond efficiencies and better targeting. The model uses the FAO's definition of hunger, which determines that a country has ended hunger when more than 95 per cent of the population is able to consume a sufficient number of calories. Closing the final hunger gap -- something the world's wealthiest countries have not yet achieved--is also costlier and complex.

Livia Bizikova and Carin Smaller, International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

David Laborde and Tess Lallemenat, International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI).

The views expressed are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of CCIC or its members.

Follow HuffPost Canada Blogs on Facebook