Food insecurity has been increasing in recent years, and has been further exacerbated in 2020 by the coronavirus. But what can we expect for the next decade? What will current trends in climate change, economic growth, and demographic shifts mean for food security throughout the 2020s? With data from the Food and Agriculture Organization in partnership with Gallup World Poll, the World Data Lab has used machine learning techniques and the latest forecasts of global change to estimate the dynamics of food insecurity for the coming decade. This forecast is displayed at subnational spatial resolution on the World Hunger Clock, allowing policymakers to explore the data and answer important questions about hunger.

Scientists have been studying food security for decades, and for many years, they relied on crude metrics, such as food available per capita, or the rate of stunting among children. However, these methods come with a variety of problems. Looking at the amount of food stored in national reserves does not account for inequalities in access to that food, while population level metrics like rates of stunting are confounded by things like infectious disease and parasites.

Today, scientists use a new metric called the Food Insecurity Experience Scale, which measures people’s lived experiences of hunger, rather than just crude proxies for hunger. It involves questions about skipping meals, running out of food, and worrying about having enough to eat over the previous year. As one of the most informative and cross-culturally valid metrics of food insecurity, it was selected as one of the key indicators for the second Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger. Now, with the World Hunger Clock, it is possible to explore this important metric at high spatial resolution including projections into the future for the entire world.

Read the full article about tracking progress on world hunger by Matt Cooper, Homi Kharas, and Benjamin Müller at Brookings.