Zero Hunger Challenge

Oct 16, 2013


About the Zero Hunger Challenge

First proposed at the UN Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Brazil in June 2012, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon’s Zero Hunger Challenge aims for a future where every individual has adequate nutrition.

The challenge of Zero Hunger means-

  • 100% access to adequate food all year round
  • Zero stunted children less than 2 years
  • All food systems are sustainable
  • 100% increase in smallholder productivity and income
  • Zero loss or waste of food

The United Nations Secretary-General gives top priority to the elimination of hunger.

Eliminating hunger involves investments in agriculture, rural development, decent work, social protection and equality of opportunity. It will make a major contribution to peace and stability and to the reduction of poverty. It will contribute to better nutrition for all – especially women from the beginning of pregnancy and children under the age of two.


In few countries in the world is the Zero Hunger Campaign more relevant than for India. Despite rapid economic growth and sufficient food production, many still remain without access to adequate food and nutrition. Many children are stunted, i.e. are less tall than expected for their age. Faced with learning difficulties and limited employment opportunities as they grow older, they often face a life of poverty. A rising population coupled with changing climates and land use pressures increases the burden on the ecosystem to ensure enough food production. An overwhelmingly majority of India’s farmers are small and marginal farmers, i.e. holding less than one hectare of land. Many are not able to generate enough income to keep their families out of poverty, yet increasing their productivity is crucial to meeting India’s future food requirements.  The challenge of food security is compounded by the significant loss of food, much of which can be attributed to poor post-harvest management and a lack of storage facilities.

The Government of India has evolved several social safety nets to address these challenges:  the Public Distribution System; the Antodaya Anna Rozgar Yojana, the Mid-day Meal Scheme; the Mahatma Gandhi National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, and most recently in 2013, the landmark Food Security Act which aims to provide subsidized foodgrains to up to 75 percent of the rural population and 50 percent of the urban households. 

The United Nations in India especially through its specialized agencies supports the Government of India in implementing its national missions and programmes aimed at strengthening food security and nutrition. 

The Team

Convened by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), seven UN agencies in India including IFAD, ILO, UNDP, UNICEF and WHO are working together to improve the efficient and inclusive implementation of the public food distribution system.