Global hunger on rise, say United Nations food agencies

Faith Castro
September 17, 2017

The joint report provides estimates of the number and proportion of hungry people on the planet and includes data for the global, regional, and national levels, while offering a significant update on the shifting global milieu that is today affecting people's food security and nutrition, in all corners of the globe.

While people in countries with long-term conflict suffer more than those with intermittent conflict or peace, food insecurity can happen anywhere - even in Texas or Florida. The figure represents an increase of 38 million over the previous year.

This report is the first global assessment of the United Nations on food security and nutrition to appear in the extension of the Sustainable Development Program in 2030, which has made the eradication of hunger and all forms of malnutrition the main worldwide policy priority.

But even in more peaceful regions, droughts or floods caused in part by El Niño and the global economic slowdown, have deteriorated food security and nutrition, note the heads of United Nations agencies.

While this is still far below 900 million in 2000, the rise in conflicts, caused, in part, by climate-related disasters, has triggered an uptick.

Conflicts between armed groups has gone up by 125 percent since 2010, often growing into larger wars and affecting countries including Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia, and South Sudan, where the situation spiraled into a starvation for several months earlier this year.

Of the 815 million people suffering from hunger in the world, 489 million live in countries affected by conflict.

Climate change, conflict and the global economic slowdown are the main causes of the recent increase in hunger.

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The report said some 155-million children aged under 5 are stunted (too short for their age); 52 million suffer from wasting, meaning their weight is too low for their height; while 41-million children are overweight.

The report casts doubt on the U.N.'s stated aim to eradicate hunger by 2030-a theoretically achievable goal, considering, as the United Nations stressed when it announced the goal, the amount of food in the world is more than enough to feed the global population.

But the report also points to a link between climate change and conflict.

"And that importantly, we will not end hunger by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security".

It listed nine conflict and climate related shocks associated with food crises in 2016, including in Syria and South Sudan, where over 53 million people were considered to be "food insecure".

The five United Nations agencies heads also reaffirmed their determination and commitment now more than ever to step up concerted action to fulfil the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda and achieve a world free from hunger, malnutrition and poverty. "This is the way forward that we see to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty once and for all", he said.

It also highlighted starvation in parts of South Sudan in early 2017.

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