UN report warns of dramatic worsening of hunger in pandemic-hit 2020

U.S. pledges over Ksh.1 trillion to boost UN food initiative

The year 2020 saw a dramatic worsening of world hunger, which affected a surging number of people, the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said in a statement on Monday.

The warning came with the launch of “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021” (SOFI) at the FAO headquarters in the Italian capital of Rome.

The report was drafted by the FAO in cooperation with other four UN agencies, namely, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Program (WFP), and World Health Organization (WHO).

It urged the global community to act swiftly to help the world go back on track to reach Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Agenda, which is to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030.

Around 118 million more people were facing hunger in 2020, an 18 percent increase from 2019. Some 9.9 percent of all people are estimated to have been undernourished last year, up from 8.4 percent in 2019, the report said.

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The figures showed that the 2030 zero-hunger goal still requires extra efforts.

Global hunger grew in both absolute and proportional terms last year, outpacing the population growth, the report said.

In 2020, some 418 million of the undernourished people, more than half of the total, were in Asia, 282 million were in Africa, accounting for over a third, and about 60 million in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the report.

About 21 percent of the population was facing hunger in Africa in 2020 – more than double the proportion of any other region.

This report presents the first global assessment of food insecurity and malnutrition for 2020 and offers some indication of what hunger might look like by 2030, in a scenario further complicated by the enduring effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. It also includes new estimates of the cost and affordability of healthy diets, which provide an important link between the food security and nutrition indicators and the analysis of their trends.

Altogether, the report highlights the need for a deeper reflection on how to better address the global food security and nutrition situation.

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