World is not doing enough to end hunger by 2030: UN

Food inflation on unprecedented rise triggered by COVID-19 pandemic, Russia-Ukraine war  

By Shagun
Published: Thursday 07 July 2022
Almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, up from 112 million in 2019

The world is moving further away from its goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, according to a new United Nations report.

The number of people globally affected by hunger went up to 828 million in 2021, an increase of about 46 million since 2020. World hunger levels have gone up by 150 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, said the 2022 edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI), released July 6.

Projections that nearly 670 million people, or 8 per cent of the world population, will still be facing hunger in 2030 — even if a global economic recovery is considered — are adding to the worrying situation.

These numbers are similar to 2015, when the goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition was launched under the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

After remaining relatively unchanged since the launch of the agenda, the proportion of people affected by hunger jumped in 2020. It continued to rise in 2021 to 9.8 per cent of the world population, compared with 8 per cent in 2019 and 9.3 per cent in 2020.

The report was jointly published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) and paints a grim picture of the global food security scenario.

Around 2.3 billion people worldwide (29.3 per cent) were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021 — 350 million more compared to before the COVID‑19 pandemic. Nearly 924 million people (11.7 per cent of the global population) faced food insecurity at severe levels, an increase of 207 million in two years.

The gender gap in food insecurity continued to rise in 2021 — 31.9 per cent of women in the world were moderately or severely food insecure, compared with 27.6 per cent of men. The numbers show a gap of more than 4 percentage points, compared with 3 percentage points in 2020.

The report also talks of food inflation, which has been on an unprecedented rise worldwide, triggered by two years of the COVID-19 pandemic-induced disruption and now the Russia-Ukraine war. 

According to the new report estimates, almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, up from 112 million in 2019, showing the effects of inflation on consumer food prices. The inflation stemmed from the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the measures put in place to contain it. 

The ongoing war in Ukraine, involving two of the biggest global producers of staple cereals, oilseeds and fertiliser, is disrupting international supply chains. It is pushing up the prices of grain, fertiliser, energy, and ready-to-use therapeutic food for children with severe malnutrition, the FAO said in its statement. 

FAO said: “The disruption comes as supply chains are already being adversely affected by increasingly frequent extreme climate events, especially in low-income countries, and has potentially sobering implications for global food security and nutrition.”

The report suggested repurposing food and agricultural support to target nutritious foods where per capita consumption does not yet match the recommended levels for healthy diets as one of the ways to support economic recovery. 

“The evidence suggests that if governments repurpose the resources they are using to incentivise the production, supply and consumption of nutritious foods, they will contribute to making healthy diets less costly, more affordable and equitably for all,” it said.

It also pointed out that governments could do more to reduce trade barriers for nutritious foods, such as fruits, vegetables and pulses.

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