United Nations: 2.3 billion people will suffer from severe or moderate hunger in 2021

UNITED NATIONS (AP) – World hunger soared in 2021, as some 2.3 billion people had moderate or severe difficulty getting enough food — and that was before the Ukraine war, which led to increases in the cost of grain, fertilizer and energy, according to a report. to the United Nations released Wednesday.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report paints a bleak picture, based on 2021 data, saying that the statistics “should dispel any lingering suspicion that the world is regressing in its efforts to eradicate hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in general in all its forms.”

“The latest available evidence indicates that the number of people unable to afford a healthy diet worldwide has increased by 112 million to nearly 3.1 billion, reflecting the effects of higher consumer food prices during the (COVID-19) pandemic,” he said. Heads of five United Nations agencies published the report said in the future.

They warned that the war in Ukraine, which began on February 24, was “disrupting supplies and further affecting grain, fertilizer and energy prices” leading to further price increases in the first half of 2022. Meanwhile, they said, events are leading More frequent and extreme weather conditions disrupt supply chains, particularly in low-income countries.

Ukraine and Russia together produce nearly a third of the world’s wheat and barley and half of the world’s sunflower oil, while Russia and its ally Belarus are the second and third producers of potash, a major component of fertilizer.

According to the report, hunger continued to rise in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Caribbean in 2021, but at a slower pace from 2019 to 2020.

“In 2021, hunger affected 278 million people in Africa, 425 million in Asia and 56.5 million in Latin America and the Caribbean,” she added.

The United Nations development goals call for an end to extreme poverty and hunger by 2030, but the report says projections indicate that 8% of the world’s population – nearly 670 million people – will face hunger by the end of the decade. This is the same number of people in 2015 when the goals were adopted.

The report said the gender gap in food insecurity, which grew during the COVID-19 pandemic, widened further from 2020 to 2021.

Driven by widening differences in Latin America and the Caribbean as well as in Asia, the report said that “in 2021, 31.9% of women in the world were moderately or severely food insecure compared to 27.6% of men.”

In 2020, an estimated 22% of children under five – or 149 million – experienced stunted growth and development, while 6.7% – or 45 million – suffered from wasting, the deadliest form of malnutrition, the report said. At the other end of the scale, he said, 5.7% of young adults under the age of five, or 39 million, are overweight.

Looking ahead, the gains we have made in reducing the prevalence of child stunting by a third in the past two decades – reducing the number of stunted children by 55 million – are threatened by the triple crises of climate, conflict and the COVID-19 pandemic. Five United Nations. “Without ramping up efforts, the number of wasted children will only increase.”

The heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Food Programme, the United Nations Children’s Fund, the World Health Organization and the International Fund for Agricultural Development said that the intensification of these three crises along with rising inequality required “bolder actions” to deal with future shocks.

With the forecasts for global economic growth in 2022 significantly revised downward, the five agencies projected more limited financial resources to invest in “agri-food systems” – production, handling, transportation, processing, distribution, marketing and consumption of agricultural products.

But the agency heads said the roughly $630 billion a year governments spend to support food and agriculture globally could be invested “in agri-food systems equitably and sustainably”.

Currently, they said, “a large proportion of this subsidy distorts market prices, destroys the environment, and harms small producers and indigenous peoples, while failing to provide healthy meals to children and others who need them most.”

The heads of the five agencies said evidence shows that if governments redirect their resources to prioritize consumers for food and provide incentives to produce and supply nutritious foods, “it will help make healthy diets less affordable and affordable for all.”

The report said the main recommendation “is that governments begin to rethink how to reallocate their current public budgets to make them more cost-effective and efficient in reducing the cost of nutritious foods and increasing the availability and affordability of healthy diets.”

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