The latest Global Hunger Index report says the number of hungry people worldwide has fallen twenty-five percent since ninety ninety. Last year the estimate topped one billion people for the first time. But this year's report says the number of people not getting enough to eat has fallen to nine hundred twenty-five million. Still, many experts worry that hunger rates are not falling fast enough to meet United Nations goals. One of the first of the Millennium Development Goals is to reduce the hunger rate by fifty percent between ninety ninety and twenty fifteen. Caroline Hurford at the U.N. World Food Program says the reduction in hunger rates has slowed in recent years. She says there was a small decrease in the number of hungry people in the late nineteen nineties. But then it rose again during the financial crisis of two thousand seven and two thousand eight. And then high food prices, together with high fuel prices caused more problems. And climate change has made it more difficult to grow food.The Global Hunger Index is prepared by three private organizations based in Germany, the United States and Ireland. The latest report says twenty-nine countries have levels of hunger that are considered "alarming." The biggest increases were found in the Democratic Republic of Congo. The report says hunger has risen by more than sixty-five percent since nineteen ninety because of conflict and political insecurity. And Caroline Hurford says Congo is not alone. She says conflict is a huge problem that affects the ability to grow crops. People cannot tend their fields if they are always being chased away by armed rebels.A separate report says twenty-two countries have suffered from a hunger and food crisis for at least eight years. Twenty percent of the world's hungry people live in these countries, most of which are in Africa. That report is from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization and the World Food Program. They say new policies are needed to deal with these long-term crises. Peter Smerdon at the World Food Program says emergency aid must include development assistance. Both reports were released ahead of World Food Day October sixteenth.
For VOA Special English, I'm Mario Ritter. Transcripts, MP3s and podcasts of our reports are at voaspecialenglish.com. You can also find us on Facebook and Twitter at VOA Learning English.