Hunger levels increased sharply last year globally as a result of conflicts, climate change and the economic fallout of Covid-19, putting over 800 million people in dire need of food.
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 (SOFI) report jointly published by five UN agencies yesterday stated that more people faced hunger and malnutrition in 2020 than before.
Last year alone, the heads of the agencies observed that, “around a tenth of the global population—between 720 million people and 811 million—were undernourished.”
Of the population at risk, an estimated 418 million of that number were in Asia, while 282 million were in Africa.
“This report highlights a devastating reality, noting that the path to Zero Hunger is being stopped dead in its tracks by conflict, climate change and COVID-19,” said David Beasley, World Food Program Executive Director.
The report was jointly published by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Program (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO).
Further, a total of 2.4 million billion people did not have access to sufficiently nutritious food in 2020, representing an increase of nearly 320 million people in one year, the survey noted.
The report also gives a blow by blow account of how climate change has left communities in developing countries most exposed to hunger in-spite of the fact that they contribute little to global carbon emissions.
“Poorer nations are also the least prepared to withstand or respond to climate change,” noted WFP’s Gernot Laganda, adding that “weather-related shocks and stresses were driving hunger like never before.
“Meaning it will take a tremendous effort for the world to honour its pledge to end hunger by 2030”
Children’s healthy development has suffered too, with more than 149 million under-fives affected by stunting and 370 million missing out on school meals in 2020, because of school closures during the Covid-19 pandemic.
The World Food Program said 150 million children still lack access to a school lunch, and urged countries to restore these programmes while putting in place “even better ones that give children and communities a future.”
“Children’s future potential “is being destroyed by hunger”, Mr Beasley added. “The world needs to act to save this lost generation before it’s too late.”