Global hunger on the rise, 282m Africans malnourished —UN report

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The United Nations in a report on Monday said the COVID-19 pandemic heightened global hunger with Nigeria and 53 other African countries, accounting for 282 million malnourished people.

The report titled, ‘UN report: Pandemic year marked by spike in world hunger, Africa posting biggest jump, World at critical juncture, must act now for 2030 turnaround,’ was signed by UNICEF, the WHO, FAO, the UN, and the IFAD.

Others include the United Nations Children’s Fund and the UN World Food Programme.

The report read in part, “More than half of all undernourished people (418 million) live in Asia; more than a third (282 million) in Africa; and a smaller proportion (60 million) in Latin America and the Caribbean.

“But the sharpest rise in hunger was in Africa, where the estimated prevalence of undernourishment – at 21 per cent of the population – is more than double that of any other region.

“There was a dramatic worsening of world hunger in 2020, much of it likely related to the fallout of COVID-19.

“While the pandemic’s impact has yet to be fully mapped, a multi-agency report estimates that around a tenth of the global population – up to 811 million people – were undernourished last year. The number suggests it will take a tremendous effort for the world to honour its pledge to end hunger by 2030.

“This year’s edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World is the first global assessment of its kind in the pandemic era.

It further noted that previous editions had put the world on notice that the food security of millions – many children among them – was at stake.

The report said it was unfortunate, that the COVID-19 pandemic continues to expose weaknesses in our food systems, which threaten the lives and livelihoods of people around the world,

“Already in the mid-2010s, hunger had started creeping upwards, dashing hopes of irreversible decline. Disturbingly, in 2020 hunger shot up in both absolute and proportional terms, outpacing population growth: some 9.9 per cent of all people are estimated to have been undernourished last year, up from 8.4 per cent in 2019.

It further stated that, “On other measurements too, the year 2020 was sombre. Overall, more than 2.3 billion people (or 30 per cent of the global population) lacked year-round access to adequate food: this indicator – known as the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity – leapt in one year as much as the preceding five combined. Gender inequality deepened: for every 10 food-insecure men, there were 11 food-insecure women in 2020 (up from 10.6 in 2019).

“Malnutrition persists in all its forms, with children paying a high price: in 2020, over 149 million under-fives are estimated to have been stunted, or too short for their age; more than 45 million – wasted, or too thin for their height; and nearly 39 million – overweight.

“A full three-billion adults and children remained locked out of healthy diets, largely due to excessive costs. Nearly a third of women of reproductive age suffer from anaemia. Globally, despite progress in some areas – more infants, for example, are being fed exclusively on breast milk – the world is not on track to achieve targets for any nutrition indicators by 2030.

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