Between 720 and 811 million people around the world suffered from hunger in 2020, about 161 million more than the previous year, moving the world away from the sustainable development goal (SDG) of ending hunger by 2030, according to the latest annual report on the state of food security and hunger in the world.
The pandemic, he says, has considerably complicated this goal. The study, by several United Nations agencies, warns that hunger worsened dramatically last year, although the impact of the coronavirus crisis has not yet been fully mapped. They recall that as early as the mid-2010s, hunger had started to rise, dashing hopes of a decline.
But in 2020, hunger soared in both absolute and relative terms, outpacing population growth, which is “disturbing” for the signatories of the report.
“We are not on the right track to end hunger and malnutrition in the world; in fact, we are going in the wrong direction,” the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) warned in the report, which It has been developed in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Program (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
This increase implies that undernourishment has grown from 8.4% in 2019 to 9.9% in 2020, after remaining practically unchanged in the last five years evaluated.
The increase in undernourishment varies between regions, and while close to one in five people in Africa suffered from this problem (21%) – a proportion more than twice that of any region – in Latin America and the Caribbean it affected 9.1% and in Asia 9%.
If you look at the total number, more than half of the undernourished population (418 million people) lives in Asia; more than a third (282 million) live in Africa, and a lower proportion (60 million) live in Latin America and the Caribbean.
The COVID-19 pandemic has contributed to the worsening of the data, although the report recalls that the coronavirus is part of a much larger problem, and points to other factors such as “climate variability, conflicts and extreme economic slowdowns” – aggravated by the coronavirus crisis – as the cause of the vulnerability of food systems.
According to forecasts that take into account the possible impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, after the peak of more than 760 million people reached in 2020, world hunger will slowly decline to less than 660 million in 2030. However, This represents 30 million more people than expected by 2030 “if the pandemic had not taken place, which is a symptom of its lasting effects on global food security,” says the document.
The report has also revealed worse figures in the last year in terms of food security, highlighting that moderate or severe food insecurity has seen growth equal to that of the last five years combined.
“Almost one in three people in the world (2.370 million) do not have access to adequate food in 2020, an increase of almost 320 million people in just one year,” the FAO has warned.
The high cost of healthy diets and “persistent levels of income inequality” have made these diets out of reach for 3 billion people, according to the report.
Transform food systems
The FAO has expressed that despite the bad data, the document has a positive note because the solution to these problems lies “in the transformation of food systems” and right now “there is momentum” to carry out these changes.
The report identifies six ways to counteract rising hunger, with measures such as consolidating peace in conflict zones, increasing resilience to climate change and economic adversities for the most vulnerable, intervening in supply chains to reduce the price of nutritious food, tackling poverty and structural inequalities, and changing consumption patterns to make them more nutritious