How Much Would It Cost to End World Hunger?

Photo: WFP/Arete/Arlette Bashizi/2022
World Food Program USA
Published August 10, 2022

Global hunger has been called the world’s most solvable problem. That’s true. But the number of extremely hungry people has more than doubled in recent years due to extreme weather, conflict, rising food costs, the socioeconomic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and now the war in Ukraine. That means it costs more money too. So, how much 

Let’s start in 2012, when the United Nations developed 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The mandate of SDG 2 “Zero Hunger” was clear: to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by the year 2030. 

For several years, the world was making good progress towards achieving SDG2 by the 2030 deadline. However, hunger levels have risen significantly recently and so has the price tag for fighting it.  

Despite mounting challenges, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is still finding ways to deliver food to tens of millions of people every year. We know what it takes to end world hunger, and we know what it costs. We simply need the collective will to make it happen. 

Haitian woman in green shirt
Photo: WFP/Theresa Piorr/2022

The number of people facing severe hunger has soared to 345 million.

How Many People Are Hungry Right Now? 

Let’s start with the basics. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines hunger as “an uncomfortable or painful physical sensation caused by insufficient consumption of dietary energy.” In other words: your stomach growls. Today, 828 million people on the planet are hungry – that’s 2.5 times more than the entire population of America. 

Of those 828 million, 345 million are experiencing the most severe levels of hunger including starvation. These are the people the U.N. World Food Programme aims to serve. 

Farmer in South Sudan
Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua/2022

The world is hungrier than ever because of the four C’s: conflict, climate shocks, COVID-19 and rising costs.

What Would It Cost to Feed the Entire World?  

The U.N. World Food Programme feeds over 100 million people facing severe hunger in more than 120 countries and territories every year. In 2021, we did this with a budget of $9.6 billion dollars, which was still $5.2 billion dollars short of our total funding requirements. Clearly, ending world hunger will require more money. 

Back in July of 2021, U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley told us it would take an estimated $40 billion each year to end world hunger by 2030. 

“That seems like a lot of money,” Beasley said. “But in the United States alone, in the last one year, the U.S. billionaires’ net worth increase was over $1 trillion.”

Woman in Bangladesh Climate program
Photo: WFP/Sayed Asif Mahmud/2022

The world has the expertise and the resources to end hunger.

Can $6 Billion End World Hunger? 

You’ve probably heard the $6 billion dollars figure thrown around on social media or the news quite a bit. Back in October of 2021, the U.N. World Food Programme issued a one-time call to the world’s billionaires to help save millions of people on the verge of famine. At the time, 42 million people were on the brink of starvation across 43 countries. 

“$6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them,” said Executive Director David Beasley. “It’s not complicated.”

The math worked out like this: $6 billion dollars would provide the 42 million people living on the brink of famine with one lifesaving, nutrition-packed meal per day for a year. One meal costs the U.N. World Food Programme as little as $0.43 cents, so: 

$0.43 cents per meal x 42 million people facing famine x 365 days a year = $6.6 billion 

By the end of 2021, new data revealed that the number of people on the edge of famine had risen – pushing the price tag up to $7 billion dollars to save 45 million lives 

Fada holding her young girl in Mali
Photo: WFP/Arete/Arlette Bashizi/2022

With $40 billion dollars every year, we could end global hunger by 2030.

Can We End World Hunger? 

Yes, the U.N. World Food Programme has a plan to end world hunger, and here are the numbers:

  • There are 828 million people on the planet who are hungry. That’s 1 in 10 people. 
  • Of those, 50 million are on the brink of famine and desperately need help. 
  • The U.N. World Food Programme feeds over 100 million of the hungriest people each year. 
  • We need $7 billion dollars to deliver food the millions of people facing famine this year. 
  • We need $40 billion dollars per year to feed all of the world’s hungry people and end global hunger by 2030. 

This may seem like an incredibly large amount of money and a near-impossible task. But it’s not really. In 2021, Americans spent nearly $11 billion dollars on Cyber Monday. Think about that. In just 24 hours, we shelled out more than enough dough to end famine. That’s why we know it’s possible to reach Zero Hunger. Because we’ve done incredible things before with the help of generous humanitarians like you. 

It will take all of us to end world hunger, and no gift is too small. You can feed two hungry people a day for just a dollar. Every person who’s able to fill their plate and reach their full potential has a positive ripple effect on the well-being of their families, their communities and their nation. 

However much you give, whether it be $5 or $5,000, you’re helping to save lives and feed the future. Ending hunger is one of the greatest challenges of our time. Together, it’s one of the world’s most solvable problems. 

Help us end world hunger.