The World is moving backwards on eliminating hunger and malnutrition, reversing from the Sustainable Development Goal of in all its forms, according to the latest The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report.
The number of people affected by hunger globally rose to as many as 828 million in 2021, which shows a reverse of trends, the report said. The report is a joint publication by the Food and Agriculture Organization(FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
THE NUMBERS SHOW THE GRAVITY
1. Between 702 and 828 million people were affected by hunger in 2021. The number has grown by about 150 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic – 103 million more people between 2019 and 2020 and 46 million more in 2021.
2. After remaining relatively unchanged since 2015, the prevalence of undernourishment jumped from 8.0 to 9.3 percent from 2019 to 2020 and rose at a slower pace in 2021 to 9.8 percent
3. Projections are that nearly 670 million people will still be facing hunger in 2030
4. Globally in 2020, an estimated 22 percent of children under five years of age were stunted, 6.7 percent were wasted, and 5.7 percent were overweight. Children in rural settings and poorer households, whose mothers received no formal education, were more vulnerable to stunting and wasting. Children in urban areas and wealthier households were at higher risk of overweight.
5. Globally in 2019, nearly one in three women aged 15 to 49 years (571 million) were affected by anaemia, with no progress since 2012 6. Almost 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020.
In the Foreword, the heads of the five UNorganisations said that the most recent evidence available suggests that the number of people unable to afford a healthy diet around the world rose by 112 million to almost 3.1 billion, reflecting the impacts of rising consumer food prices during the pandemic. This number could even be greater once data are available to account for income losses in 2020, they said.
They noted, “The gains we made in reducing the prevalence of child stunting by one-third in the previous two decades – translating into 55 million fewer children with stunting -are under threat by the triple crises of climate, conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic.”
They mentioned further in the Foreword that evidence suggests that if governments repurpose the resources to prioritize food consumers, and to incentivize sustainable production, supply and consumption of nutritious foods, they will help make healthy diets less costly and more affordable for all.
SHOCKING’ REPORT CARD
Stating that the figures were a “shocking report card of our efforts to end hunger”, Deputy Secretary General Amina Mohammed said “These are people whose lives, livelihoods and prospects for a fruitful and dignified life are being crippled, with their futures eroded and potential and aspirations held back.” “They need our crosscutting resolve. The evidence presented in this report is compelling as it is outrageous when we see that children in rural settings and poorer households, whose mothers received no formal education, were even more vulnerable to stunting and wasting,” she said.
UKRAINE, CLIMATE CHANGE
The UN Report also highlighted the damaging impact of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, which has disrupted the supply of staple cereals, oilseeds and fertilizer from both nations, as well as international supply chains – provoking soaring prices as well as ready-to-use therapeutic food for severely malnourished children In the Foreword, the UN Heads wrote, “This report repeatedly highlights the intensification of these major drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition: conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks, combined with growing inequalities.”
The issue at stake is not whether adversities will continue to occur or not, but how we must take bolder action to build resilience against future shocks, they added,
The report stresses that the recent setbacks indicate that policies are no longer delivering marginal returns in reducing hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition. It also stated that the Governments where the economy is fragile are also facing fiscal constraints to transform agrifood systems.
The Governments should start rethinking how they can reallocate their existing public budgets to make them more cost-effective and efficient in reducing the cost of nutritious foods and increasing the availability and affordability of healthy diets, with sustainability and leaving no one behind.