In 2015, there were 795 million hungry people around the world . Tackling this issue by 2030 is one of the main goals set forth in the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). According to a new brief from IFPRI and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD), reducing the share of the population affected by undernourishment to 5 percent, or lower, in every country will come with a significant but affordable price tag.

Ending hunger worldwide by 2030 will cost an extra US $11 billion per year of public spending, according to the brief’s authors, David Laborde and Tess Lallemant of IFPRI and Livia Bizikova and Carin Smaller of IISD. Four billion of that annual amount will need to come from international donors, while the remaining 7 billion will come from poor developing countries themselves.

The brief identifies five categories of expenditures that are critical to ending hunger: social safety nets, support for farmers, rural development, enabling policies, and nutrition. The authors’ analysis focuses on social safety nets targeting consumers, farm support to expand production and increase producers’ incomes, and rural development to reduce inefficiencies along agricultural value chains and spur rural productivity.

These factors were chosen because they are clearly and measurably linked to increased calorie consumption. The authors point out, however, that enacting proper enabling policies (like reform of land and trade policies) and addressing global nutrition challenges (like child stunting and the obesity epidemic) were excluded from the analysis not because they lack in importance but rather because of a lack of data and the complexities of costing these factors.

To model the cost of ending hunger, the authors used the MIRAGRODEP model, a dynamic computable general equilibrium, multi-country, multi-sector model to simulate national and international markets and key economic, biophysical, and socioeconomic trends that impact agriculture. Combining this model with household surveys enabled them to identify changes in the consumption and production of major food items, as well as changes in non-farm sources of income. Finally, satellite accounts were used to identify the costs of different development interventions.

This approach allowed the authors to gain a clearer, more detailed understanding of the causes of hunger at the household level and to determine the optimal level of spending needed for the three study categories (social safety nets, farm support, and rural development) for each country to reach established minimum caloric requirements.

The analysis also established a “co-funding rule” based on average annual donor contributions (in GDP per capita) to developing country budgets from 2009-2013. This rule essentially states that as developing countries grow richer, donor contributions decrease; governments must then step in to fill the gap through increased taxes.

The study looked at a representative sample of seven countries in Africa south of the Sahara: Ghana, Malawi, Nigeria, Senegal, Tanzania, Uganda, and Zambia. These countries were selected based on their availability of reliable data, the diversity of their socioeconomic and agricultural conditions, and their relevance to the international donor community. By using this sample, the authors were able to extrapolate the global cost of ending hunger, as well as the amount of donor commitment needed to reach that goal.

Currently, donor contributions to ending hunger ring in at around US $8.6 billion, meaning the extra $4 billion called for in the brief represents a 45 percent increase. At the county level, how and where this support is used will differ depending on each country’s agricultural and socioeconomic situation. According to the authors, over 74 countries are expected to still have hunger levels above 5 percent of the population by 2030; 18 of these countries, however, are expected to have sufficient domestic funds to address hunger without donor support. Donor contributions will thus need to be prioritized and split among the remaining 56 countries. Africa will require the most support, particularly in areas where conflict has exacerbated hunger and food insecurity in recent years.

Eleven billion dollars more in public spending every year is a big figure, but the authors conclude optimistically, emphasizing that with proper targeting of interventions, this financial goal is achievable and does not need to place an unnecessary burden on either donors or poor countries. Engaging with all local, national, and regional stakeholders is key to identifying the specific types of interventions needed to ensure that investments are used effectively to turn SDG2 into a reality.

By: Sara Gustafson, IFPRI

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