By Cecilia Ologunagba
Global hunger levels have skyrocketed because of conflicts, climate change and the economic impact of COVID-19 as between 720 and 811 million people in the world faced hunger in 2020.
The information is in a report on the “State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 (SOFI), jointly published by five UN agencies on Monday.
It stated that more people faced hunger and malnutrition in 2020 than before.
The report is 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 Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organisation (WHO)
According to the report, the pandemic continues to expose weaknesses in food systems, which threaten the lives and livelihoods of people around the world.
The heads of the agencies wrote in the report that “around a tenth of the global population – between 720 million people and 811 million – were undernourished last year.
“Some 418 million of that number were in Asia and 282 million were in Africa.
“Globally, 2.4 billion people did not have access to sufficiently nutritious food in 2020 – an increase of nearly 320 million people in one year.”
The report also highlights how climate change has left communities in developing countries most exposed to hunger – in spite of the fact that they contribute little to global CO2 emissions.
“These poorer nations are also the least prepared to withstand or respond to climate change,” said WFP’s Gernot Laganda, who added that “weather-related shocks and stresses were driving hunger like never before.
“This suggests that 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 coronavirus pandemic.
Today, 150 million youngsters still do not have access to a school lunch, said WFP, which urged countries to restore these programmes and put in place “even better ones that give children and communities a future.”
WFP Executive Director, David Beasley, also said “the 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.”
Children’s future potential “is being destroyed by hunger”, he insisted. “The world needs to act to save this lost generation before it’s too late.” (NAN)