Mapped: The 3 Billion People Who Can't Afford a Healthy Diet
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Mapped: The 3 Billion People Who Can’t Afford a Healthy Diet

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Mapped: The 3 Billion People Can't Afford a Healthy Diet

The 3 Billion People Who Can’t Afford a Healthy Diet

While they aren’t often the focus of news media, hunger and undernourishment are problems plaguing millions of people every day.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), more than 3 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, an additional 112 million more people than in 2019. The increase was partly because of rising food prices, with the average cost of a healthy diet rising by 3.3% from 2019 levels.

As of August 2022, the FAO food price index was up 40.6% from average 2020 levels. Unless income levels increased by a similar magnitude, the healthy diet crisis is likely to have worsened, especially in low-income countries experiencing rampant food inflation.

Using data from the FAO, the above infographic maps the share of people unable to afford a healthy diet in 138 different countries as of 2020 (latest available data).

The Cost and Affordability of a Healthy Diet

According to the FAO, a healthy diet is one that meets daily energy needs as well as requirements within the food and dietary guidelines created by the country.

The (un)affordability is measured by comparing the cost of a healthy diet to income levels in the country. If the cost exceeds 52% of an average household’s income, the diet is deemed unaffordable.

Here’s a look at the share of populations unable to afford a healthy diet, and the cost of such a diet around the world:

CountryPercent of population unable to afford a healthy dietCost of Healthy Diet (USD per Person per Day)
Burundi 🇧🇮97.2%$2.9
Madagascar 🇲🇬97.0%$3.2
Liberia 🇱🇷96.8%$3.9
Malawi 🇲🇼96.6%$3.1
Nigeria 🇳🇬95.9%$4.1
Central African Republic 🇨🇫95.1%$3.6
Guinea 🇬🇳94.9%$4.1
Angola 🇦🇴94.3%$4.5
Congo 🇨🇬92.4%$3.4
Sudan 🇸🇩91.8%$4.3
Mozambique 🇲🇿91.5%$3.2
Democratic Republic of Congo 🇨🇩90.0%$2.1
Sierra Leone 🇸🇱89.2%$2.9
Niger 🇳🇪88.8%$2.9
Zambia 🇿🇲88.0%$3.3
Tanzania 🇹🇿87.6%$2.7
Guinea-Bissau 🇬🇼87.2%$3.5
Ethiopia 🇪🇹86.8%$3.4
Rwanda 🇷🇼86.3%$2.7
Haiti 🇭🇹85.9%$4.5
Sao Tome and Principe 🇸🇹84.7%$3.6
Nepal 🇳🇵84.0%$4.4
Lesotho 🇱🇸83.5%$4.3
Pakistan 🇵🇰83.5%$3.7
Chad 🇹🇩83.4%$2.8
Benin 🇧🇯82.9%$3.7
Uganda 🇺🇬82.2%$2.7
Kenya 🇰🇪81.1%$3.0
Burkina Faso 🇧🇫80.1%$3.3
Laos 🇱🇦79.8%$4.1
Mali 🇲🇱74.3%$3.1
Bangladesh 🇧🇩73.5%$3.1
Egypt 🇪🇬72.9%$3.4
Eswatini 🇸🇿71.8%$3.4
India 🇮🇳70.5%$3.0
Indonesia 🇮🇩69.1%$4.5
Philippines 🇵🇭68.6%$4.1
Jamaica 🇯🇲66.2%$6.7
South Africa 🇿🇦65.2%$4.3
Myanmar 🇲🇲65.1%$4.2
Gambia 🇬🇲64.0%$3.1
Djibouti 🇩🇯63.9%$3.1
Botswana 🇧🇼61.4%$3.7
Ghana 🇬🇭61.2%$4.0
Cameroon 🇨🇲60.7%$2.8
Mauritania 🇲🇷60.7%$3.7
Fiji 🇫🇯60.4%$3.9
Suriname 🇸🇷58.8%$5.7
Namibia 🇳🇦56.8%$3.5
Bhutan 🇧🇹53.0%$5.0
Mongolia 🇲🇳51.4%$5.1
Honduras 🇭🇳51.3%$3.5
Iraq 🇮🇶49.6%$3.5
Kyrgyzstan 🇰🇬49.6%$3.2
Sri Lanka 🇱🇰49.0%$3.9
Senegal 🇸🇳46.0%$2.3
Guyana 🇬🇾43.0%$4.9
Armenia 🇦🇲42.9%$3.2
Tajikistan 🇹🇯42.1%$3.5
Cabo Verde 🇨🇻38.1%$3.6
Belize 🇧🇿36.4%$2.1
Gabon 🇬🇦36.3%$3.6
Nicaragua 🇳🇮35.7%$3.3
Algeria 🇩🇿30.2%$3.8
Vietnam 🇻🇳30.0%$4.1
Colombia 🇨🇴26.5%$3.1
Mexico 🇲🇽26.3%$3.3
Bolivia 🇧🇴24.7%$3.8
Palestine 🇵🇸23.1%$3.4
Ecuador 🇪🇨21.4%$2.9
Saint Lucia 🇱🇨20.6%$3.6
Peru 🇵🇪20.5%$3.3
Iran 🇮🇷20.3%$3.6
Tunisia 🇹🇳20.3%$3.6
Albania 🇦🇱20.1%$4.2
Brazil 🇧🇷19.0%$3.1
Dominican Republic 🇩🇴18.3%$3.9
Panama 🇵🇦18.2%$4.5
North Macedonia 🇲🇰18.0%$3.4
Paraguay 🇵🇾17.8%$3.5
Montenegro 🇲🇪17.5%$3.5
Thailand 🇹🇭17.0%$4.3
Costa Rica 🇨🇷16.8%$4.1
Morocco 🇲🇦16.7%$2.8
Serbia 🇷🇸16.3%$4.2
Jordan 🇯🇴14.9%$3.6
Mauritius 🇲🇺13.5%$3.6
China 🇨🇳12.0%$3.0
Trinidad and Tobago 🇹🇹11.6%$4.2
Romania 🇷🇴8.8%$3.2
Bulgaria 🇧🇬8.5%$4.1
Seychelles 🇸🇨6.8%$3.8
Moldova 🇲🇩6.7%$2.8
Chile 🇨🇱3.8%$3.4
Croatia 🇭🇷3.8%$4.3
Bosnia and Herzegovina 🇧🇦3.7%$4.0
Uruguay 🇺🇾3.6%$3.4
Russia 🇷🇺3.5%$3.4
Greece 🇬🇷3.2%$3.1
Italy 🇮🇹2.9%$3.1
Japan 🇯🇵2.5%$5.8
Hungary 🇭🇺2.0%$3.5
Spain 🇪🇸2.0%$2.8
Malaysia 🇲🇾1.9%$3.5
Latvia 🇱🇻1.8%$3.2
South Korea 🇰🇷1.7%$5.2
United States 🇺🇸1.5%$3.4
Maldives 🇲🇻1.4%$3.9
Estonia 🇪🇪1.3%$3.3
Kazakhstan 🇰🇿1.2%$2.7
Lithuania 🇱🇹1.2%$3.1
Slovakia 🇸🇰1.2%$3.2
Israel 🇮🇱1.0%$2.5
Poland 🇵🇱1.0%$3.2
Austria 🇦🇹0.8%$3.0
Australia 🇦🇺0.7%$2.6
Canada 🇨🇦0.7%$3.0
Malta 🇲🇹0.7%$3.8
Sweden 🇸🇪0.6%$3.3
Portugal 🇵🇹0.5%$2.7
United Kingdom 🇬🇧0.5%$1.9
Denmark 🇩🇰0.4%$2.5
Norway 🇳🇴0.4%$3.5
Cyprus 🇨🇾0.3%$3.0
Belarus 🇧🇾0.2%$3.3
Belgium 🇧🇪0.2%$3.1
Czechia0.2%$3.0
Germany 🇩🇪0.2%$3.0
Netherlands 🇳🇱0.2%$3.0
Finland 🇫🇮0.1%$2.7
France 🇫🇷0.1%$3.2
Ireland 🇮🇪0.1%$2.2
Luxembourg 🇱🇺0.1%$2.7
Slovenia 🇸🇮0.1%$3.1
Azerbaijan 🇦🇿0.0%$2.5
Iceland 🇮🇸0.0%$2.4
Switzerland 🇨🇭0.0%$2.7
United Arab Emirates 🇦🇪0.0%$3.1
World 🌎42.0%$3.5

In 52 countries, more than half of the population cannot afford a healthy diet. The majority of these are in Africa, with the rest located across Asia, Oceania, and the Americas.

By contrast, in four countries—Azerbaijan, Iceland, Switzerland, and the UAE—everyone is able to afford a healthy diet. The picture is similar for most European and developed high-income countries, where more than 95% of the population can afford a healthy diet.

When the percentages are translated into numbers, Asia contains the most number of people unable to afford a healthy diet at 1.89 billion, of which 973 million people are in India alone. Another 1 billion people are in Africa, with around 151 million people in the Americas and Oceania.

While hunger is a worldwide concern, it is particularly acute in African countries, which cover all of the top 20 spots in the above table.

Africa’s Deepening Food Crisis

In many countries across sub-Saharan Africa, more than 90% of the population cannot afford a healthy diet.

Sub-Saharan Africa is particularly susceptible to extreme climate events and the resulting volatility in food prices. Roughly one-third of the world’s droughts occur in the region, and some sub-Saharan countries are also heavily reliant on imports for food.

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has deepened the crisis, with many African countries importing over 50% of their wheat from the two countries in conflict. The rising food prices from this supply chain disruption have resulted in double-digit food inflation in many African nations, which means that more people are likely to be unable to afford healthy diets.

The Horn of Africa region at the Eastern tip of Africa is particularly in turmoil. All the countries in the region are reliant on wheat from Russia and Ukraine, with Eritrea (100%) and Somalia (>90%) high up in the import dependency chart. Additionally, the region is facing its worst drought in 40 years alongside ongoing political conflicts. As a result, 22 million people are at risk of starvation.

Population Growth and Food Insecurity

In November of 2022, the global population is projected to surpass 8 billion people, and many of the fastest growing countries are also food-insecure.

By 2050, the global population is likely to increase by 35%, and to meet the growing demand for food, crop production will need to double. Given that agriculture is one of the biggest contributors to greenhouse gas emissions, this increase in crop production will also need to be environmentally sustainable.

As the impacts of climate change intensify and food demand increases, reducing food waste, building climate-resilient agricultural infrastructure, and improving agricultural productivity will all play a key role in reducing the levels of food insecurity sustainably.

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Animated Chart: Remittance Flows and GDP Impact By Country

Which countries rely on remittance flows the most? This animation shows the amount of remittance income that countries received in 2022.

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Remittance transfers received by countries in 2022

Visualizing Remittance Flows and GDP Impact By Country

The COVID-19 pandemic slowed down the flow of global immigration by 27%. Alongside it, travel restrictions, job losses, and mounting health concerns meant that many migrant workers couldn’t send money in the form of remittances back to families in their home countries.

This flow of remittances received by countries dropped by 1.5% to $711 billion globally in 2020. But over the next two years, things quickly turned back around.

As visa approvals restarted and international borders opened, so did international migration and global remittance flows. In 2021, total global remittances were estimated at $781 billion and have further risen to $794 billion in 2022.

In these images, Richie Lionell uses the World Bank’s KNOMAD data to visualize this increasing flow of money across international borders in 176 countries.

Why Do Remittances Matter?

Remittances contribute to the economy of nations worldwide, especially low and middle-income countries (LMICs). 

They have been shown to help alleviate poverty, improve nutrition, and even increase school enrollment rates in these nations. Research has also found that these inflows of income can help recipient households become resilient, especially in the face of disasters.

At the same time, it’s worth noting that these transfers aren’t a silver bullet for recipient nations. In fact, some research shows that overreliance on remittances can cause a vicious cycle that doesn’t translate to consistent economic growth over time.

Countries Receiving the Highest Remittances

For the past 15 years, India has consistently topped the chart of the largest remittance beneficiaries.

RankRemittance Inflows by Country2022 (USD)
1India$100,000M
2Mexico$60,300M
3China$51,000M
4Philippines$38,000M
5Egypt, Arab Rep.$32,337M
6Pakistan$29,000M
7France$28,520M
8Bangladesh$21,000M
9Nigeria$20,945M
10Vietnam$19,000M
11Ukraine$18,421M
12Guatemala$18,112M
13Germany$18,000M
14Belgium$13,500M
15Uzbekistan$13,500M
16Morocco$11,401M
17Romania$11,064M
18Dominican Republic$9,920M
19Indonesia$9,700M
20Thailand$9,500M
21Colombia$9,133M
22Italy$9,000M
23Nepal$8,500M
24Spain$8,500M
25Honduras$8,284M
26Poland$8,000M
27Korea, Rep.$7,877M
28El Salvador$7,620M
29Lebanon$6,841M
30Israel$6,143M
31United States$6,097M
32Russian Federation$6,000M
33Serbia$5,400M
34Brazil$5,045M
35Japan$5,000M
36Portugal$4,694M
37Ghana$4,664M
38Jordan$4,646M
39Czech Republic$4,539M
40Haiti$4,532M
41Ecuador$4,468M
42Georgia$4,100M
43Kenya$4,091M
44Croatia$3,701M
45Peru$3,699M
46Sri Lanka$3,600M
47West Bank and Gaza$3,495M
48Jamaica$3,419M
49Armenia$3,350M
50Tajikistan$3,200M
51Nicaragua$3,126M
52Kyrgyz Republic$3,050M
53Senegal$2,711M
54Austria$2,700M
55Switzerland$2,631M
56Sweden$2,565M
57United Kingdom$2,501M
58Hungary$2,404M
59Bosnia and Herzegovina$2,400M
60Slovak Republic$2,300M
61Moldova$2,170M
62Azerbaijan$2,150M
63Tunisia$2,085M
64Zimbabwe$2,047M
65Luxembourg$2,000M
66Netherlands$2,000M
67Myanmar$1,900M
68Algeria$1,829M
69Albania$1,800M
70Somalia$1735M
71Congo, Dem. Rep.$1,664M
72Malaysia$1,620M
73Kosovo$1,600M
74Denmark$1,517M
75Latvia$1,500M
76Bolivia$1,403M
77Belarus$1,350M
78Cambodia$1,250M
79Bermuda$1,200M
80South Sudan$1,187M
81Uganda$1,131M
82Mali$1,094M
83South Africa$1,019M
84Sudan$1,013M
85Argentina$966M
86Montenegro$920M
87Finland$880M
88Bulgaria$850M
89Slovenia$800M
90Australia$737M
91Madagascar$718M
92Turkey$710M
93Canada$700M
94Lithuania$700M
95Togo$668M
96Greece$665M
97Costa Rica$654M
98Estonia$626M
99Qatar$624M
100Iraq$624M
101Gambia, The$615M
102Tanzania$609M
103Norway$600M
104Panama$596M
105Burkina Faso$589M
106Hong Kong SAR, China$571M
107Paraguay$554M
108Mozambique$545M
109Niger$534M
110Cyprus$527M
111Lesotho$527M
112Mongolia$500M
113Rwanda$469M
114Fiji$450M
115North Macedonia$450M
116Guyana$400M
117Cabo Verde$375M
118Kazakhstan$370M
119Cameroon$365M
120Cote d'Ivoire$360M
121Liberia$351M
122Afghanistan$350M
123Ethiopia$327M
124Samoa$280M
125Mauritius$279M
126Saudi Arabia$273M
127Malta$271M
128Malawi$267M
129Zambia$260M
130Tonga$250M
131Comoros$250M
132Ireland$249M
133Suriname$221M
134Benin$209M
135Lao PDR$200M
136Timor-Leste$185M
137Sierra Leone$179M
138Guinea-Bissau$178M
139Trinidad and Tobago$172M
140Mauritania$168M
141Iceland$164M
142Eswatini$148M
143Belize$142M
144Curacao$131M
145Uruguay$127M
146Chile$78M
147Vanuatu$75M
148St. Vincent and the Grenadines$70M
149Grenada$69M
150Botswana$56M
151St. Lucia$55M
152Bhutan$55M
153Djibouti$55M
154Dominica$52M
155Burundi$50M
156Aruba$44M
157Namibia$44M
158Guinea$41M
159Solomon Islands$40M
160Oman$39M
161Antigua and Barbuda$35M
162St. Kitts and Nevis$33M
163Marshall Islands$30M
164Kuwait$27M
165New Zealand$25M
166Macao SAR, China$17M
167Angola$16M
168Kiribati$15M
169Cayman Islands$14M
170Sao Tome and Principe$10M
171Seychelles$9M
172Maldives$5M
173Gabon$4M
174Palau$2M
175Papua New Guinea$2M
176Turkmenistan$1M
TotalWorld$794,059M

With an estimated $100 billion in remittances received, India is said to have reached an all-time high in 2022.

This increasing flow of remittances can be partially attributed to migrant Indians switching to high-skilled jobs in high-income countries—including the U.S., the UK, and Singapore—from low-skilled and low-paying jobs in Gulf countries.

Mexico and China round out the top three remittance-receiving nations, with estimated inbound transfers of $60 billion and $51 billion respectively in 2022.

Impact on National GDP

While India tops the list of countries benefitting from remittances, its $100 billion received amounts to only 2.9% of its 2022 GDP.

Meanwhile, low and middle-income countries around the world heavily rely on this source of income to boost their economies in a more substantive way. In 2022, for example, remittances accounted for over 15% of the GDP of 25 countries.

RankRemittance Inflows by Country% of GDP (2022)
1Tonga49.9%
2Lebanon37.8%
3Samoa33.7%
4Tajikistan32.0%
5Kyrgyz Republic31.2%
6Gambia, The28.3%
7Honduras27.1%
8South Sudan24.8%
9El Salvador23.8%
10Haiti22.4%
11Nepal21.7%
12Jamaica21.2%
13Lesotho21.0%
14Somalia20.6%
15Comoros20.1%
16Nicaragua19.9%
17Guatemala19.8%
18Armenia18.9%
19West Bank and Gaza18.5%
20Cabo Verde18.2%
21Kosovo17.3%
22Uzbekistan17.0%
23Georgia16.2%
24Moldova15.4%
25Montenegro15.0%
26Ukraine13.8%
27Marshall Islands11.0%
28Guinea-Bissau10.9%
29Bosnia and Herzegovina10.1%
30Albania9.8%
31Senegal9.8%
32Jordan9.6%
33Philippines9.4%
34Fiji9.2%
35Liberia9.0%
36Dominican Republic8.8%
37Dominica8.6%
38Serbia8.6%
39Togo7.9%
40Morocco7.9%
41Pakistan7.7%
42Vanuatu7.6%
43Timor-Leste7.5%
44Suriname7.3%
45St. Vincent and the Grenadines7.3%
46Kiribati7.2%
47Egypt, Arab Rep.6.8%
48Ghana6.1%
49Mali5.9%
50Grenada5.8%
51Zimbabwe5.3%
52Croatia5.3%
53Belize5.3%
54Sri Lanka4.8%
55Madagascar4.7%
56Vietnam4.5%
57Bangladesh4.5%
58Tunisia4.5%
59Cambodia4.4%
60Sierra Leone4.3%
61Mexico4.2%
62Nigeria4.1%
63Rwanda3.8%
64Ecuador3.8%
65Latvia3.6%
66Romania3.6%
67Niger3.6%
68Kenya3.5%
69Bolivia3.2%
70Burkina Faso3.2%
71Myanmar3.1%
72North Macedonia3.1%
73Mongolia3.1%
74Eswatini3.1%
75Azerbaijan3.0%
76Mozambique3.0%
77St. Kitts and Nevis2.9%
78India2.8%
79St. Lucia2.7%
80Guyana2.6%
81Colombia2.6%
82Congo, Dem. Rep.2.6%
83Solomon Islands2.4%
84Luxembourg2.4%
85Mauritius2.4%
86Sudan2.3%
87Uganda2.3%
88Malawi2.3%
89Belgium2.2%
90Sao Tome and Principe2.0%
91Afghanistan2.0%
92Slovak Republic2.0%
93Antigua and Barbuda2.0%
94Bhutan2.0%
95Cyprus1.9%
96Portugal1.8%
97Thailand1.7%
98Belarus1.6%
99Mauritania1.6%
100Estonia1.6%
101Malta1.5%
102Peru1.5%
103Czech Republic1.5%
104Djibouti1.4%
105Burundi1.3%
106Paraguay1.3%
107Hungary1.3%
108Slovenia1.2%
109Aruba1.2%
110Lao PDR1.2%
111Benin1.1%
112Israel1.1%
113Poland1.1%
114Lithuania1.0%
115France1.0%
116Bulgaria0.9%
117Algeria0.9%
118Zambia0.9%
119Costa Rica0.9%
120Palau0.8%
121Panama0.8%
122Cameroon0.8%
123Tanzania0.7%
124Indonesia0.7%
125Spain0.6%
126Iceland0.5%
127Trinidad and Tobago0.5%
128Austria0.5%
129Cote d'Ivoire0.5%
130Seychelles0.4%
131Korea, Rep.0.4%
132Italy0.4%
133Germany0.4%
134Sweden0.4%
135Denmark0.3%
136Malaysia0.3%
137Namibia0.3%
138Switzerland0.3%
139Finland0.3%
140Botswana0.3%
141Greece0.2%
142Ethiopia0.2%
143Qatar0.2%
144Russian Federation0.2%
145Brazil0.2%
146China0.2%
147South Africa0.2%
148Iraq0.2%
149Guinea0.2%
150Netherlands0.2%
151Uruguay0.1%
152Kazakhstan0.1%
153Hong Kong SAR, China0.1%
154Argentina0.1%
155Norway0.1%
156Japan0.1%
157Maldives0.08%
158Turkey0.08%
159United Kingdom0.07%
160Macao SAR, China0.07%
161Ireland0.05%
162Australia0.04%
163Oman0.04%
164Saudi Arabia0.03%
165Chile0.02%
166United States0.02%
167Gabon0.02%
168Kuwait0.01%
169Angola0.01%
170New Zealand0.01%
171Papua New Guinea0.01%
172Turkmenistan0.001%

Known primarily as a tourist destination, the Polynesian country of Tonga banks on remittance inflows to support its economy. In 2022, the country’s incoming remittance flows were equal to almost 50% of its GDP.

Next on this list is Lebanon. The country received $6.8 billion in remittances in 2022, estimated to equal almost 38% of its GDP and making it a key support to the nation’s shrinking economy.

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