What is the German government doing to tackle hunger and povery in the world?

World Food Day - FAQs What is the German government doing to tackle hunger and povery in the world?

Even today, there are still millions of people in the world who suffer extreme poverty and hunger. With the affirmation of its commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals that are laid out in the 2030 Agenda, the German government would like to help everybody in the world to live in dignity and safety. Here is an overview of Germany’s engagement.

A woman holds a handful of wheat.

Fighting hunger and achieving food and nutrition security - one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals 

Photo: Getty Images/Corbis/Eric Lafforgue

What does Germany think of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals?

The United Nations celebrates its 75th anniversary in October 2020. To mark the occasion, Chancellor Angela Merkel reaffirmed Germany’s commitment to the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Federal Republic of Germany will continue to work to achieve these - "to achieve a world worth living in for all people".

No poverty (SDG 1) and Zero hunger (SDG 2) are the first two Sustainable Development Goals laid out in the United Nations 2030 Agenda. They are also two of the main objectives of the German government’s development policy. They are ambitious challenges that affect everybody on this planet. "The international community has taken on a lot with its 2030 Agenda for the next 15 years," said Chancellor Angela Merkel back in 2015, when the United Nations first adopted the 2030 Agenda. This year, Angela Merkel warned that the SDGs would not be achieved "at the current rate of progress". "So the countries of this world must redouble their efforts," declared the Chancellor. 

With the 2030 Agenda, the international community aims to enable people to live in dignity worldwide, while sustainably preserving vital natural resources. This has an economic, an environmental and a social dimension. All states are called on to align their actions with these imperatives. Germany was quick to commit to an ambitious implementation.
On the website "Die Glorreichen 17" (the magnificent 17), you can find out more about the Sustainable Development Goals. 

Germany’s contribution to realising the 2030 Agenda is the further development and implementation of Germany’s National Sustainable Development Strategy. Chancellor Angela Merkel has invited all citizens to get involved in the online consultations which are scheduled to run until October to update the National Sustainable Development Strategy. The German government will then revise the existing draft document on the basis of the outcome of this dialogue. The new Strategy should be adopted in the first half of 2021.

What about the SDG to end poverty? 

By 2030 extreme poverty is to be eradicated – that is what Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) 1 says. In 2015, the World Bank estimated that 700 million people worldwide lived in extreme poverty. As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, up to 100 million more people could join them in 2020 alone. 

The World Bank defines extreme poverty as having less than 1.90 US dollars a day to live on. If we extend the definition to include other factors such as education, health and standard of living, more than 1.3 billion people suffered multidimensional poverty according to the Global Multidimensional Poverty Index 2019.

What is the German government doing to fight poverty?

Poverty reduction is a top priority for Germany’s development cooperation. Germany is working for

  • Fair working conditions
  • A living minimum wage, and
  • Corporate responsibility on the part of German businesses in partner countries.

This can be seen in concrete terms, for instance, in Germany’s support for initiatives like the Partnership for Sustainable Textiles and the German Initiative on Sustainable Cocoa.

Working for social standards

Germany is also promoting social standards in other global supply and value chains, including coffee and cashew nuts, to ensure that the people at the end of the supply chain can live on what they earn and give their children an education. Within the framework of the G7/G20 Germany is also engaging to achieve decent jobs, gender equality and a fair technological transformation. 

Meeting basic needs, mitigating risks

Germany is supporting social welfare systems in partner countries that enable particularly poor and disadvantaged people to meet their basic needs and take steps to protect themselves against risks. Here are some examples:

  • In India, since 2018, some 500 million people have been covered by a state-funded heath insurance scheme that is free of charge for users; German advisers helped build the system.
  • The government of Malawi is receiving support to help it finance and realise social cash transfers for almost 600,000 people.
  • In Burkina Faso, as of 2020, a system of cash transfers put in place with German support will help improve food and nutrition security for women and children.

Protection against climate-related risks

Under Germany’s G7 Presidency, the InsuResilience Global Partnership was launched. The global initiative is developing climate-risk financing and insurance. The goal is to provide poor and vulnerable people with protection against climate-related risks, which is becoming increasingly important. By 2025, 500 million people in developing countries are to have insurance that covers them for natural disasters and climate shocks. 

The Sahel Adaptive Social Protection Program is helping the Group of Five Sahel states (G5) and Senegal to establish and develop social welfare systems, enabling them to adapt and retain their ability to act in climate-related crises. Since 2018, Germany has been involved in this programme. In 2020 it was topped up with German funding to help the Sahel states to mitigate the socioeconomic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic with the help of social welfare measures.

What about the goal of combating hunger? 

It is estimated that slightly over two billion people are currently malnourished; some 821 million people are affected by hunger and chronic undernourishment. In 2019, 144 million under-fives were chronically undernourished. More than two billion people are overweight or adipose – increasingly also in developing countries. Half of the world’s population is thus not adequately fed. The consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have further increased the pressure on the worldwide food and nutrition situation. The number of people who are acutely affected by food insecurity, could double to 265 million by the end of 2020 according to the World Food Programme.

In October 2020, Chancellor Angela Merkel stressed that "we cannot afford to rest" in view of the fact that "in spite of the declared goal of the international community to end hunger in the world by 2030, and the huge efforts of the World Food Programme, an incredible number of people are having to suffer hunger – over 820 million people". The efforts of the international community should be stepped up. Like so many other major challenges of our time, hunger in the world can "only be eradicated if we pull together ". 

What is the German government doing to fight hunger in the world? 

About 1.5 billion euros of German development cooperation funds a year are dedicated to food security, and the promotion of agriculture and rural development in developing countries. In the Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development’s special initiative One World – No Hunger, which was established in 2014, these areas are declared a development policy priority. 

Overcoming hunger and malnutrition

The aim is to overcome hunger and malnutrition in developing countries and put in place the preconditions to ensure that the growing world population can be adequately fed with a balanced diet, now and in the future. One World – No Hunger focuses on particularly acutely affected countries and is currently financing more than 300 projects. It is counting on partnerships with civil society, the science and research community and the business community, in order to mobilise all forces in the fight against hunger and malnutrition, and poverty which is the main root cause.    

Support for the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO)

Since 2002 the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture has used a Bilateral Trust Fund (BTF) to assist FAO projects designed to overcome hunger and undernourishment. The projects aim to help states ensure a qualitatively and quantitatively balanced diet. With the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), partners in affected countries and other international organisations, progress is to be made on realising the right to food, both at political level and at the level of individuals in these countries. 

Using and networking research

In 2013, the Federal Ministry of Food and Agriculture launched the International research cooperation for world food programme. It aims to make better use of the expertise of German research in the fields of agriculture and nutrition, in order to improve the world food situation. German research in this field is also to be better networked at international level. The measures assisted under the programme focus on agriculture and food in sub-Saharan Africa and Southeast Asia.

Fostering research on the ground

The Federal Ministry of Education and Research has established Regional Science Service Centres in Southern and West Africa that focus on climate change and sustainable land management. With eleven partner countries in West Africa and five in Southern Africa, support covers academic training, capacity development, climate services and region-specific research programmes. This cooperation has close links with German universities and research facilities.