Inequality & Hunger

India has enjoyed steady economic growth, yet high levels of poverty, hunger and malnutrition persist. That’s why WFP is on the ground, working to strengthen India’s food systems.

While India’s economy and population levels explode, levels of inequality and social exclusion skyrocket in parallel. Across the country, millions of people don’t have enough to eat – and women and children suffer most.


of people live on less than
$1.90 a day


of the world’s undernourished people live in India


of children are chronically

India Facts

Population: 1.4 billion people.

Background: India is the world’s most populous democracy.

Geography & Climate: India shares borders with Pakistan, China, Nepal, Bhutan, Myanmar and Bangladesh, with the Indian Ocean to the south. The interior and southern coastal regions are largely tropical, while a semi-arid climate extends up the country’s center and across the northwest. Extreme climate shocks are threatening the country’s varied ecosystems and pushing more people towards hunger.

Economy: In the last two decades, per capita income in India has more than tripled. However, the minimum dietary intake fell and high levels of poverty and inequality remain.

What is Causing Hunger in India?

*General Mills is working with the World Food Programme to support rice fortification efforts in India. Here, a woman harvested rice at Burha Mayong village, near Gauhati, India.
Photo: AP/Anupam Nath

Climate Shocks

From unprecedented heat waves to extreme flooding, India is experiencing some of the most devastating impacts of the climate crisis. While the country India makes up just over 17% of the world’s population, it only produces about 7% of global emissions.

Photo: Unsplash/Tom Chen

Economic Extremes

India is one of the most unequal countries in the world. While the country is one of the fastest growing economies, inequality has persists and affects women and children the most. That’s where WFP steps in to get food to the most vulnerable.

India’s Recent History


Economic Reforms

India went through economic reforms that opened the country up to global trade and foreign investment. This resulted in significant growth in GDP and overall wage increases, which helped lift people out of extreme poverty.

However, the income inequality gap widened as wealth accumulated at the top and in urban areas.

Photo: Unsplash


Disasters Strike

At the turn of the century, India reached a population of 1 billion.

The country was hit by multiple natural disasters. In 2001, 30,000 people died from the Gujurat earthquake. In 2000 and 2002, India experienced 2 extreme droughts that plunged millions into hunger. In 2004, the Indian ocean earthquake and tsunami killed 18,000 people.

Photo: Unsplash



In January of 2020, India was among the first countries to be hit with the COVID-19 pandemic, resulting in a high death toll. A quick and strict lockdown helped to reduce the impact, but had a devastating toll on the country’s economy, pushing millions into poverty and hunger.

Photo: Unsplash
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WFP’s Work in INDIA

WFP has worked in India since 1963. With the government now providing its own food distribution systems, we are working to strengthen their systems to reach the hungriest communities.

Food Insecurity Monitoring

WFP Vulnerability Analysis and Mapping software to identify India’s most food insecure areas, which allows policy and relief work to be targeted to those who need it most. WFP also supports the government’s food security monitoring systems.

Photo: WFP/Aditya Arya
Food Distributions

WFP is working to improve the efficiency, accountability and transparency of India’s subsidized food distribution system, which brings supplies of wheat, rice and sugar to around 800 million people across the country.

School Meals

To boost the nutritional value of the government’s school meals program, we pioneered the multi-micronutrient fortification of school meals. This pilot project saw rice fortified with iron and distributed in a single district, resulting in a 20% drop in anaemia.

Photo: WFP/Aditya Arya
Photo: WFP/Aditya Arya

You Can Help Save Lives

When you donate, you help us deliver critical food relief to the most vulnerable people in India and other countries around the world. You can make difference in someone’s life – send food today.