In this capitalist economy, the yawning gap between the rich and poor continues to widen, leaving millions in the dire straits of misery and haplessness. The controversy over the distributive mechanism of resources between the rich north and poor south is further intensifying with every passing moment. Poverty remains one of the most pernicious forms of human helplessness and one of its ugliest faces is hidden hunger. It goes beyond saying that poverty is the principal cause of hunger. The causes of poverty include lack of resources, an extremely unequal income distribution in the world and within specific countries, conflict, and hunger itself. In 2010, an estimated 7.6 million children-more than 20,000 a day- died. Poor nutrition plays a role in at least half of these deaths. Nearly 98% of worldwide hunger exists in underdeveloped countries. Almost 1 in every 15 children in developing countries dies before the age of 5, most of them from hunger-related causes. While hunger exists worldwide, 526 million hungry people live in Asia. Over a quarter of the world’s undernourished people live in Sub-Saharan Africa. Almost 1 in 4 people in this region is chronically hungry. Unfortunately, for decades, the global political and development agenda has shamelessly failed to put the spotlight on hunger and under nutrition. While recent years have seen more ambition and action, the tragedy of hunger persists for 805 million hungry people today. This suffering-which for many is part of everyday life-cannot be allowed to continue. As the spotlight increases on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), the international community must endeavor to ensure that food and nutrition security is at the heart of the new development framework. It is possible to successfully end poverty, but only if we successfully fight hunger. In its ninth annual report, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has calculated the Global Hunger Index (GHI), analyzing and recording the state of hunger worldwide, highlighting the countries and regions where action is needed the most. The 2014 GHI shows that progress has been made in reducing the proportion of hungry people in the world. Despite progress, levels of hunger remain “alarming” or “extremely alarming” in 16 countries. Transparent accountability systems are also needed in order to ensure that investments contribute to public health, while standardized data collection on micronutrient deficiencies can build the evidence base on the efficacy and cost effectiveness of food-based solutionsHunger is usually understood to refer to the distress associated with lack of food. The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) defines food deprivation, or undernourishment, as the consumption of fewer than about 1,800 kilocalories a day-the minimum that most people require to live a healthy and productive life. Under nutrition goes beyond calories and signifies deficiencies in any or all of the following: energy, protein, or essential vitamins and minerals. Under nutrition is also the result of inadequate intake of food in terms of either quantity or quality, poor utilization of nutrients due to infections or other illnesses, or a combination of these factors. These in turn are caused by a range of factors including household food insecurity; inadequate maternal health or childcare practices; or inadequate access to health services, safe water, and sanitation. Malnutrition refers more broadly to both under nutrition and over nutrition.Almost all the food experts agree that a critical aspect of hunger often overlooked is hidden hunger. Also known as micronutrient deficiency, hidden hunger affects more than an estimated 2 billion people globally. The repercussions of these vitamin and mineral deficiencies can be both serious and long-lasting. The most profound impacts of hidden hunger include child and maternal death, physical disabilities, weakened immune systems, and compromised intellects. Where hidden hunger has taken root, it not only prevents people from surviving and thriving as productive members of society, it also holds countries back in a cycle of poor nutrition, poor health, lost productivity, persistent poverty, and reduced economic growth. The state of hunger in developing countries as a group has improved since 1990, falling by 39 percent, according to the 2014 GHI. Despite progress made, the level of hunger in the world is still “serious,” with 805 million people continuing to go hungry, according to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The global average obscures dramatic differences across regions and countries. Regionally, the highest GHI scores-and therefore the highest hunger levels-are in Africa south of the Sahara and South Asia, which have also experienced the greatest absolute improvements since 2005. South Asia saw the steepest absolute decline in GHI scores since 1990. Levels of hunger are “extremely alarming” or “alarming” in 16 countries, with Burundi and Eritrea both classified as “extremely alarming,” according to the 2014 GHI. It is a matter of great concern that most of the countries with “alarming” GHI scores are located in Africa south of the Sahara. Unlike many other countries south of the Sahara, where hunger has been decreasing, Swaziland is an exception. It suffered the biggest increase in a GHI score between the 1990 GHI and the 2014 GHI. Reliable data for the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Somalia, however, are sorely lacking. One form of hunger that is often ignored or overshadowed by hunger related to energy deficits is hidden hunger-also called micronutrient deficiency-which affects some 2 billion people around the world. Possible solutions to hidden hunger include food-based approaches: dietary diversification, which might involve growing more diverse crops in a home garden; fortification of commercial foods; and bio-fortification, in which food crops are bred with increased micronutrient content. Furthermore, behavioral change communication is critical to educate people about health services, sanitation and hygiene, and caring practices, as well as the need for greater empowerment of women at all levels.In order to eliminate hidden hunger, governments must demonstrate political will by making it a priority issue. Governments and multilateral institutions need to invest in and develop human and financial resources, increase coordination, and ensure transparent monitoring and evaluation to build capacity on nutrition. Governments must also create a regulatory environment that values good nutrition. This could involve creating incentives for private sector companies to develop more nutritious seeds or foods. Transparent accountability systems are also needed in order to ensure that investments contribute to public health, while standardized data collection on micronutrient deficiencies can build the evidence base on the efficacy and cost effectiveness of food-based solutions. These recommendations are some of the steps needed to eliminate hidden hunger. Ending hunger in all its forms is possible. It must now become a reality. Mary Robinson, former President of Ireland and President of the Mary Robinson Foundation-Climate Justice- has aptly emphasized on the critical importance and urgency of a positive political action that the world leadership must strive to commit. She says, “We need to look at the world through the eyes of a mother, the head of a poor household, a smallholder farmer, and a poor slum dweller to really understand the subtle and interlinked causes of hunger. In this way, problems that seem technical become people’s problems and as a result our response becomes more social, more human. I think this could be another mindset shift in our efforts to tackle hunger and under nutrition.” Time has already come to take concrete measures to end hunger, here and now, but is there anybody listening?The writer is a civil servant by profession, a writer by choice and a motivational speaker by passion!