A woman shows the result after pounding millet on a smallholder farm in Ishiara, Kenya.

Food security Eradicating hunger – ensuring food security

The right to food is a human right. It is enshrined in international law and so all countries and governments have the obligation to realise it for their people.

The objective of ending hunger worldwide and achieving food security was adopted in 2015 as a central goal of the internationally agreed 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development. And yet, in 2022, on average 735 million people worldwide were suffering from hunger according to estimates contained in the UN’s 2023 “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (External link)” Report. The figure had increased by some 120 million since 2019, before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Some 2.3 billion people on the planet were affected by moderate or severe food insecurity in 2021.

Alongside the current pandemic, the main causes of food insecurity are poverty, inequality, wars and conflicts. The problem is further aggravated by the consequences of climate change, for example extreme weather events such as storms, flooding and droughts. In addition, many countries had neglected rural development for a long time even though rural areas play a key role in global food production.

Video: Transformation of agrifood systems - for fair incomes, healthy nutrition, and an intact environment

Still from the video " Transformation of agrifood systems - for fair incomes, healthy nutrition, and an intact environment"
On average, 735 million people worldwide suffered from chronic hunger in 2022. Germany acknowledges its global responsibility towards achieving the goals of the Agenda 2030 and intends to contribute towards ending hunger and poverty worldwide.

Consequences for world food security of Russia’s war of aggression on Ukraine

Wheat field in northern Mongolia
Logo: Global Alliance for Food Security (GAFS)

Russia's war of aggression against Ukraine has dramatically exacerbated the situation in global agricultural markets, which had already been tight. Many fields in Ukraine couldn’t be planted in 2022 and shipments of grain harvested the year before were explicitly blocked by Russia.

The rise in energy and fertiliser costs is making things even worse. Developing countries in particular are at risk of famine and destabilisation. Depending on how long the war in Ukraine goes on, the World Food Programme expects the number of people affected by acute hunger to increase even further. The situation is further aggravated by export restrictions.

Under its G7 Presidency in 2022, Germany had a special responsibility to develop globally coordinated solutions for food security. At the initiative of German Development Minister Svenja Schulze, the G7 Development Ministers launched a Global Alliance for Food Security in May 2022 as a way of equipping the world to face the impending famine.

German activities Realising the right to food

Germany has significantly increased its development cooperation efforts relating to food security in recent years. It is making massive efforts to help its partner countries improve and ensure food security for their people. Germany’s development cooperation activities in this sector are also helping to develop rural areas and protect natural resources. Two billion euros are being invested every year in these areas from the budget of the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ).

With its core area “Transformation of agricultural and food systems” Germany is putting food security at the centre of international cooperation. The aim is to give people the chance to realise their right to sufficient, safe and nutritious food. To that end, food systems need to become more effective and efficient. This needs to happen in a way that is economically and socially sustainable so as to create prosperity and new jobs for young people and, in particular, for women.

In addition to its ongoing programmes, the German Development Ministry made special funding of some 1.4 billion euros available in 2022 for the fight against global hunger and for the countries most affected. In total, the BMZ invested around 3.5 billion euros in food security in 2022.

A woman in Togo harvests lettuce. She carries a toddler on her back.

Special initiative Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems Internal link

The Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems” has been helping to transform agricultural and food systems since 2014. As part of this initiative, more than 300 projects are being implemented in countries that are particularly affected by hunger and malnutrition.

A woman farmer in Malawi in front of a solar system that provides electricity for the pump of a drip irrigation system

Sustainable agriculture

Sustainable agriculture must also help to ensure a balanced diet and income for small farming families and support them in adapting to the consequences of climate change. That is why an important area of work for German development cooperation is to promote more sustainable agriculture and food systems that involve both producers and consumers.

Young maize plant in a research laboratory

Agricultural research and innovation

Smallholder farmers in developing countries need innovative techniques, improved plant varieties and knowledge about sustainable agricultural cultivation practices - a task for international public agricultural research, which BMZ supports as part of German development cooperation.

Cultivation of wheat in the greenhouse of the Agricultural Research Institute CIMMYT in Texcoco, Mexico

Green innovation centres

As part of its Special Initiative “Transformation of Agricultural and Food Systems”, the BMZ has established green innovation centres in 16 partner countries of German development cooperation. The aim of the centres is to improve regional food supply, increase the income of smallholder farms and create jobs through innovations in the agricultural and food sector.

Three fishermen with fishing nets in Bangladesh

Sustainable fisheries and fish farming

In its partner countries, the BMZ promotes artisanal fishing and fish farming (aquaculture), the sustainable management of fish stocks and fish farms, sustainable fish consumption and the fight against illegal fishing.

Approaches of German development policy

Helping people help themselves

A Bolivian farmer in a wheat field. The construction of stone walls protects farmland from erosion.

A Bolivian farmer in a wheat field. The construction of stone walls protects farmland from erosion.

A Bolivian farmer in a wheat field. The construction of stone walls protects farmland from erosion.

In most countries affected by hunger and malnutrition, comprehensive reform processes are necessary in the entire food system, for example in governance, the economy, the health sector, social security, trade relations or spatial planning.

External support is not sufficient for these processes: They can only succeed if developing countries take responsibility for them themselves. They need the political will to realise the human right to food, as well as adequate financial, technical and human resources. The guiding principle of German development policy is therefore help towards self-help.

BMZ publications

Cover: Berlin Ministerial Conference "Uniting for Global Food Security" | Conclusions by the Chairs

Berlin Ministerial Conference “Uniting for Global Food Security” on 24 June 2022

Conclusions by the Chairs

File type PDF | Date of status 06/2022 | File size 659 KB, Pages 3 Pages
Cover: BMZ core area strategy "Sustainable Agri-Food Systems"

BMZ Core area strategy: Sustainable Agri-Food Systems

A World without Hunger | BMZ Paper 5

File type PDF | Date of status 12/2021 | File size 584 KB, Pages 29 Pages

As at: 02/01/2023