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The World's Ten Hungriest Countries

Written by Kristin Myers

Despite global hunger levels falling, one in nine worldwide still face hunger. Here are the ‘ten hungriest’ countries according to the 2017 Global Hunger Index.

Worldwide, 815 million people still go hungry — a staggering figure that translates into one out of nine people. While global hunger levels have declined by 27% since 2000, according to the 2017 Global Hunger Index, 45% of deaths of children under five are linked to malnutrition. The report, released today by Concern Worldwide, German aid agency Welthungerhilfe, and the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), highlights massive food inequality around the globe.


In Timor-Leste, a small country with a population of just over one million, almost all of its citizens are food insecure — a figure that totals 845,000. Stunting is extremely prevalent here, with levels that exceed 50%.


For years, failed harvests and cyclical drought have plunged Niger into a perpetual hunger crisis. Currently, 1.5 million Nigeriens face hunger, nearly 20% of their population. Conflict in the area caused has caused widespread displacement in the country, which sits near the bottom of the UN’s Human Development Index.


More than 15% of Liberian families don’t know where their next meal will come from. Hit hard by Ebola in 2014, the country’s existing economic troubles have only deepened. Poverty and food insecurity are high in Liberia, particularly in rural areas— where more than half of the population lives.


Sudan has spent decades facing violence and conflict, including two civil wars. Waves of displacement have impacted the country, where 3.5 million face hunger. Continuous arrivals of refugees fleeing conflict in neighboring South Sudan means that emergency food assistance is critically needed. Sudan has also been affect by El Niño, causing food production to drop and hunger levels to rise .


In early 2017, the United Nations declared that millions of people in Yemen were at risk of famine. Currently, the country is in the grips of a conflict that has driven much of the population from their homes and caused a deadly and widespread outbreak of cholera. The civil war continues to fuel Yemen’s food crisis: some 17 million people — 65% of the population — face hunger.


Despite peace and stability, climate change has severely impacted the landlocked country where farmers rely on rains to grow their crops. Sixty percent of the population lives in poverty, and stunting impacts almost half of Zambia’s children.


Madagascar has suffered through years of drought, driving 1.4 million people into crisis. 50% of children under five in Madagascar are stunted, and sadly, more than half are chronically malnourished.


Since last year’s report, Sierra Leone’s hunger levels have increased — about 3.5 million people face hunger in the country. Despite political stability and peace after a decade-long civil war, rampant poverty continues to relegate Sierra Leone toward the bottom of the Development Index. Sierra Leone was hard hit by Ebola just a few short years ago, which was quickly followed by widespread food shortages. The country continues to be impacted by flooding and mudslides, the most recent of which killed hundreds.


In Chad, continuous drought and unpredictable rains mean that harvests routinely fail. The country is located in a region called the Sahel, which has struggled with a hunger crisis for years. Almost 1.5 million people face hunger, a figure that is further exacerbated by periodic upticks in violence. Conflict in the region has caused hundreds of thousands of refugees from Nigeria, Central African Republic and Sudan to enter Chad — all of whom need emergency food assistance.


The Central African Republic (CAR) remains at the top of this list as the ‘hungriest country in the world’. CAR has suffered from instability, ethnic violence and conflict since 2012, disrupting food production, and displacing over one million people. 2.5 million people — more than half of its population — are hungry.