UN – Middle East Monitor

The number of people affected by hunger in the world rose to 828 million in 2021, increasing by around 46 million from 2020 and 150 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a United Nations report Wednesday, Anadolu News Agency reports.

The UN report shows that the world is moving away from its goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030.

Cindy Hollerman, economist at the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and editor of the report, told a UN press conference in Geneva that it is “appalling” to see an upsurge in hunger and worrying to see trends.

“We’re still seeing an increase in hunger in 2021 and that’s very concerning,” Hollerman said, adding, “The concern is also the cost of healthy eating.”

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“The increases are stronger where people were experiencing economic downturns with the COVID pandemic, but combined with the other drivers,” she said, citing “conflict or climate factors and high levels of inequality”.

The five UN agencies behind the report said it was released as war raged in Ukraine, involving two of the world’s largest producers of staple grains, oilseeds and fertilizers, disrupting international supply chains.

They said the Russian-Ukrainian war was driving up the prices of grain, fertilizer, energy and ready-to-use therapeutic food for severely malnourished children.

“This report repeatedly underscores the intensification of these key drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition: conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks, combined with growing inequalities,” the agency heads wrote in the report. foreword to this year.

The report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world is published jointly by FAO, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the Food Program World Health Organization (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).

Hunger is surging in 2020

After remaining relatively unchanged since 2015, the proportion of people affected by hunger jumped in 2020 and continued to increase in 2021 to reach 9.8% of the world’s population.

Around 2.3 billion people worldwide (29.3%) were moderately or severely food insecure in 2021.

That was 350 million more than before the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to the report.

Nearly 924 million people (11.7% of the world’s population) faced severe food insecurity, an increase of 207 million in two years.

The gender gap in food insecurity continued to grow in 2021 – 31.9% of women globally were moderately or severely food insecure, compared to 27.6% of men – a gap by more than 4 percentage points, compared to 3 percentage points in 2020 .

Nearly 3.1 billion people could not afford a healthy diet in 2020, up 112 million from 2019, reflecting the effects of consumer food price inflation stemming from the economic impacts of the pandemic of COVID-19 and the measures put in place to contain it.

An estimated 45 million children under the age of five suffered from wasting, the deadliest form of malnutrition, which increases children’s risk of death by up to 12 times.

In addition, 149 million children under the age of five were stunted and developmentally impaired due to a chronic lack of essential nutrients in their diets, while 39 million were overweight.

Progress in breastfeeding

The report says progress has been made on exclusive breastfeeding, with nearly 44% of infants under six months of age being exclusively breastfed globally in 2020.

This number remains below the target of 50% by 2030.

“It is of grave concern that two out of three children are not getting the minimum diverse diet they need to grow and develop fully,” the report says.

The report predicts that nearly 670 million people (8% of the world’s population) will still face hunger in 2030, even with a global economic recovery.

This is similar to 2015, when the goal of ending hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition by the end of this decade was launched as part of the United Nations 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.

Edward N. Arrington