Agri-Health / Consumption / Food Security / Gender / Nutrition / Poverty / Vulnerability / Women

UN reports rising numbers of hungry people worldwide

Somali woman, Jul 2011 (via Flickr/IHH Humanitarian Relief Foundation).

821 million people—one in nine people—are now hungry and over 150 million children are stunted, putting the ‘Zero Hunger’ SDG #2 at risk.

‘New evidence continues to signal that the number of hungry people in the world is growing, reaching 821 million in 2017 or one in every nine people, according to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 released today. Limited progress is also being made in addressing the multiple forms of malnutrition, ranging from child stunting to adult obesity, putting the health of hundreds of millions of people at risk.

Hunger has been on the rise over the past three years, returning to levels from a decade ago.

This reversal in progress sends a clear warning that more must be done and urgently if the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger is to be achieved by 2030.

The situation is worsening in South America and most regions of Africa, while the decreasing trend in undernourishment that characterized Asia seems to be slowing down significantly.

‘The annual UN report found that climate variability affecting rainfall patterns and agricultural seasons, and climate extremes such as droughts and floods, are among the key drivers behind the rise in hunger, together with conflict and economic slowdowns. . . .

‘Changes in climate are already undermining production of major crops such as wheat, rice and maize in tropical and temperate regions and, without building climate resilience, this is expected to worsen as temperatures increase and become more extreme.

‘Analysis in the report shows that the prevalence and number of undernourished people tend to be higher in countries highly exposed to climate extremes. Undernourishment is higher again when exposure to climate extremes is compounded by a high proportion of the population depending on agricultural systems that are highly sensitive to rainfall and temperature variability. . . .

‘Poor progress has been made in reducing child stunting, the report says, with nearly 151 million children aged under five too short for their age due to malnutrition in 2017, compared to 165 million in 2012. Globally, Africa and Asia accounted for 39 percent and 55 percent of all stunted children, respectively.

‘Prevalence of child wasting remains extremely high in Asia where almost one in 10 children under five has low weight for their height, compared to just one in 100 in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report describes as ‘shameful’ the fact that one in three women of reproductive age globally is affected by anaemia, which has significant health and development consequences for both women and their children.

No region has shown a decline in anaemia among women of reproductive age, and the prevalence in Africa and Asia is nearly three times higher than in North America.

‘. . . The report calls for implementing and scaling up interventions aimed at guaranteeing access to nutritious foods and breaking the intergenerational cycle of malnutrition.

Policies must pay special attention to groups who are the most vulnerable to the harmful consequences of poor food access: infants, children aged under five, school-aged children, adolescent girls, and women.

At the same time, a sustainable shift must be made towards nutrition-sensitive agriculture and food systems that can provide safe and high-quality food for all. . . .

‘The report is part of tracking progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 2-Zero Hunger, which aims to end hunger, promote food security and end all forms of malnutrition by 2030. The report also tracks progress on six of the seven World Health Assembly global nutrition targets. . . .’

Read the whole news release: Global hunger continues to rise, new UN report says, 11 Sep 2018.

Read the full report: The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018: Building climate resilience for food security and nutrition, published by the World Health Organization (WHO), International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), World Food Programme (WFP), UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), 11 Sep 2018.

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