More than 820 million people are hungry globally

Ho- An estimated 820 million people did not have enough to eat in 2018, up from 811 million in the previous year, which is third year rise in a row.

This underscores the immense challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Zero Hunger by 2030, says a new edition of the Annual World Report on “the State of Food Security and Nutrition” released Monday.

According to the report, copied to the Ghana News Agency, the pace of progress in halving the number of stunted children and reducing the number of babies born with low birth weight is too slow and also puts the SDG Two nutrition targets further out of reach.

Adding to these challenges, overweight and obesity continued to increase in all regions, particularly among school-age children and adults.

The chances of being food insecure are higher for women than men in every continent, with the largest gap in Latin America.

The heads of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) in their joint foreword to the report said Our actions to tackle these troubling trends will have to be bolder, not only in scale but also in terms of multisectoral collaboration.

We must foster pro-poor and inclusive structural transformation focusing on people and placing communities at the centre to reduce economic vulnerabilities and set ourselves on track to ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition, the UN leaders said.

Hunger is increasing in many countries where economic growth is lagging, particularly in middle-income countries and those that rely heavily on international primary commodity trade.

The annual UN report also found that income inequality is rising in many of the countries where hunger is on the rise, making it even more difficult for the poor, vulnerable or marginalized to cope with economic slowdowns and downturns.

Slow progress in Africa is most alarming, as the region has the highest rates of hunger in the world, and continuing to slowly but steadily rise in almost all sub-regions.

In Eastern Africa in particular, close to a third of the population (30.8 percent) is undernourished.

Since 2011, almost half the countries, where rising hunger occurred due to economic slowdown or stagnation were in Africa.

The largest number of undernourished people (more than 500 million) live in Asia, mostly in southern Asian countries.

Together, Africa and Asia bore the greatest share of all forms of malnutrition, accounting for more than nine out of ten of all stunted children and over nine out of ten of all “wasted children” worldwide.

In southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa, one child in three is stunted.

In addition to the challenges of stunting and wasting, Asia and Africa are also home to nearly three-quarters of all overweight children worldwide, largely driven by consumption of unhealthy diets.

Going beyond hunger

This year’s report introduced a new indicator for measuring food insecurity at different levels of severity and monitoring progress towards SDG Two-the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity.

The indicator was based on data obtained directly from people in surveys about their access to food in the last 12 months, using the Food Insecurity Experience Scale (FIES).

People experiencing moderate food insecurity faced uncertainties about their ability to obtain food and had had to reduce the quality and or quantity of food they ate.

The report estimated that over two billion people, mostly in low- and middle-income countries, do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.

It said but irregular access is also a challenge for high-income countries, including eight per cent of the population in Northern America and Europe.

That, it said called for a profound transformation of food systems to provide sustainably-produced healthy diets for a growing world population.

The report is part of tracking progress towards Sustainable Development Goal Two, Zero Hunger, which aims at ending hunger, promote food security and end all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

The 2017 report identified three factors behind the recent rise in hunger thus conflict, climate and economic slowdowns.

This year’s report focuses on the role of economic slowdowns and downturns in food security and nutrition.

Source: Ghana News Agency