The 10 Hungriest Countries in the World and How You Can Help Them

Every donation is another step toward ending world hunger
The 10 Hungriest Countries in the World and How You Can Help Them
Vlad Karavaev/Shutterstock

The effects of the tragic 1984 famine in Ethiopia are still visible.

One in nine people worldwide lack the basic necessities of food and clean water. According to the World Food Programme, hunger poses more of a health risk than AIDS, tuberculosis, and malaria combined, but unlike these conditions, the cure for world hunger is tangible and within reach. Here are the 10 most undernourished countries in the world, along with some ways you can help feed them. 

The 10 Hungriest Countries in the World and How You Can Help Them (Slideshow)

The Global Hunger Index (GHI), which is calculated every year by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), lists the state of hunger in these 10 countries as “alarming” (20-29.9) or “extremely alarming” (greater than or equivalent to 30). The study focuses on the lack of micronutrients (zinc, folate, iron, vitamins), and the numbers are based on the proportion of the undernourished as a percentage of the population, as well as the prevalence of child mortality and underweight children under the age of five.

To find the organizations we vouch for, we focused on groups aiming to implement long-term solutions to improve food shortages and prepare for environmental disasters or drought. For example, in Zambia, the Irish charity Gorta is working to set up local beekeeping and fish farming industries. However, some of these nations are in the midst of ongoing political struggle and need immediate aid. All of the organizations we recommend have been scanned and verified as legitimate charities.

While the countries on this list are ranked according to their GHI, we want to stress that there is no hierarchy when it comes to world hunger. All undernourished people need help, even the ones in developed countries. It’s also important to note that natural disasters, such as the recent earthquake in Nepal, can make the need for food donations extra critical and time sensitive; find out how to donate to that effort here. Most of all, we want to stress the importance of not getting pessimistic about ending world hunger. It is an achievable goal. According to the Food Policy Research Institute, the state of hunger in developing countries has fallen 39 percent since 1990.

We still have a long way to go, but this is a good place to start. It may not be the season of giving, but doing good in the world shouldn’t be restricted by season.

10. Haiti

Years of political instability and a powerful earthquake whose effects are still present have left Haiti, the poorest country in the Western Hemisphere, one of the hungriest countries in the world — two thirds of the juvenile population suffer from malnutrition. Most of the money from musician Wyclef Jean’s much-publicized charity, which collected millions of dollars for the island nation, went into administrative costs and did little to nothing to help. To make a difference, donate to Food for the Poor, which, according to its website, began its work in Haiti in 1986 and has since built 11,000 homes and installed 373 water wells.

9. Zambia


Zambia, a landlocked nation bordering Angola and Zimbabwe, rates 23.2 on the Global Hunger Index, despite being more politically stable than many other developing countries. While Zambia exports hundreds of tons of high-quality maize to Europe — so high-quality that the government denied genetically modified food donations from the United States in 2002 for fear that it would contaminate their exports — malnourishment rates stay high. To help, donate to the Irish charity Gorta, which works to improve food and water safety and set up agricultural systems like beekeeping, fish farming, and watershed management; their goal is to help Zambia become self-sustaining.