Worldwide, roughly 1 in 8 people suffered from chronic hunger from 2011 to 2013, according to a new report from three U.N. food agencies.
They concluded that 842 million people didn't get enough food to lead healthy lives in that period, a slight drop from the 868 million in the previous report.
The modest change was attributed to several factors, from economic growth in developing countries to investments in agriculture. And in some countries, people have benefited from money sent home by migrant workers. But the gains were unevenly distributed, the report's authors say.
The State of Food Insecurity in the World report found that 15.7 million of the world's hungry live in developed countries; the remainder live in developing nations, where the challenge of poverty persists, particularly in rural areas.
"Sub-Saharan Africa has made only modest progress in recent years and remains the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment," the Food and Agriculture Organization said, "with one in four people (24.8 percent) estimated to be hungry."
The report found that "more substantial reductions in both the number of hungry and prevalence of undernourishment have occurred in most countries of East Asia, Southeastern Asia, and in Latin America."
The report was published by the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development and the World Food Program. Its authors said they found progress even in areas that are stricken by poverty.
"Policies aimed at enhancing agricultural productivity and increasing food availability, especially when smallholders are targeted, can achieve hunger reduction even where poverty is widespread," the heads of the three agencies said in a statement accompanying the report. "When they are combined with social protection and other measures that increase the incomes of poor families, they can have an even more positive effect and spur rural development, by creating vibrant markets and employment opportunities, resulting in equitable economic growth."