Nearly 828 million people suffered from hunger in the world due to the effects of the pandemic and the climate crisis at the end of 2021, according to estimates by five UN agencies that warned this Wednesday that, if the situation continues, the goal of eliminating hunger by 2030 will not be achieved. The annual report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world, in which the harmful effects of the war in Ukraine are not yet reflected, underlines that the pandemic, in particular, has shown “the fragility of the systems food and inequalities”.
Since the beginning of the health crisis, at the end of 2019, the number of people without access to food increased by 150 million, while the increase was 46 million in the last year. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP), the Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Children’s Fund (UNICEF) ) propose an imminent review of current aid to deal with this “catastrophic situation”.
In addition, the number of people suffering from severe food insecurity has been growing to reach 2.3 billion people in 2021, almost 30% of the world’s population, which reveals a great “setback in efforts to eliminate hunger and malnutrition“. The agencies predict that if the current situation continues, the UN goal of “Zero Hunger” by 2030 will not be achieved, as 670 million people or 8% of the world’s population will continue to suffer from it, the same number of those who they were living with hunger in 2015, when the UN Agenda was launched, so the efforts made since then seem to have been in vain.
Inflation mainly affects the most vulnerable population that cannot cope with the escalation of prices”
And the future is even more worrying after the outbreak of the war in Ukraine that has caused serious disruptions in global supply chains and an increase in the prices of food, energy and fertilizers. “The war is expected to slow economic growth this year. Inflation mainly affects the most vulnerable population that cannot cope with rising prices,” IFAD’s director of communication and global advocacy, Helene Papper, explained to Efe, acknowledging that “it is very difficult to reach the target by 2030.” .
The most affected regions were Asia, with 20.2% of its population facing hunger in 2021, Africa with 9.1% and Latin America and the Caribbean with 8.6% of its affected population. In the latter region, food insecurity severely affected 40.6% of its population in 2021, especially in the Caribbean and South America, where “malnutrition has doubled since 2015.”
Plans to reverse the situation
“If we don’t act now on that immediate response that is needed, but with long-medium term planningwe are going to see not only that we are regressing in terms of poverty and access to basic services, but also that this is going to destabilize the most vulnerable communities and open the doors to new conflicts and wars,” Papper warned about the situation in that part Another alarming fact is the “catastrophic” increase in people who cannot afford a healthy diet, 3.1 billion worldwide in 2020, a figure that is estimated to increase due to the rise in prices caused by the war of Ukraine.
“Food support policies must be reformulated because they are not helping to reduce hunger nor do they succeed in promoting access to healthy diets at affordable prices“, recalled the expert. The growing numbers of people suffering from malnutrition show wide territorial differences, but also a large gender gap because while 27.6% of men live in the world suffer from severe food insecurity, in women they are 31.9% affected.
To combat this situation and close the social, territorial and gender gaps that occur in the food field, the UN made an urgent appeal to governments but also to other actors, such as the private sector, to directly help small farmers and the most vulnerable population to reverse this situation and mitigate the worsening that will be seen from this year due to the conflict in Ukraine with Russia.