The number of people suffering from hunger in the world increased to 828 million people in 2021, according to estimates by five UN agencies, which warned on Wednesday that, if the situation continues, the goal of hunger will not be reached. eliminate hunger by 2030.
The number of hungry people in the world skyrocketed in 2020
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 outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people without access to food has increased by 150 million, while the increase was 46 million in the last year.
The report highlights in the foreword the intensification of the main drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition, that is, “conflict, extreme weather events and economic shocks, combined with rising inequalities.” “The question now is not whether or not the adversities will continue to occur, … but rather that we should be taking bolder steps to build resilience against them.”
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”.
Farther from the 2030 goal
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 organizations foresee that if the current situation continues, the UN goal of “Zero Hunger” for 2030 will not be achieved, since 670 million people or 8% of the world’s population will continue to suffer from it, the same number of those who lived with hunger in 2015, when the UN agenda was launched, so the efforts made since then seem to have been in vain.
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 a rise 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,” Helene Papper, IFAD’s director of communication and global advocacy, explains to Efe, acknowledging that “it is very difficult to reach the target by 2030.” .
Asia and Africa, the most affected
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.”
“If we do not act now in the immediate response that is needed, but with long-medium term planning, we are going to see not only that we are going backwards in the level 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”, warned Papper about the situation in that part of the world.
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 Ukraine war.
Need for direct measures
“Food support policies must be reformulated because they are not helping to reduce hunger nor are they able to promote access to healthy diets at affordable prices,” the expert recalls.
The growing numbers of people suffering from malnutrition show wide territorial differences, but also a large gender gap, since while 27.6% of men live in the world suffer from severe food insecurity, 31.9% of women are 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.