More than a tenth of humanity is starving. Why this happens and what to do about it

    17 Jul 2021

    On July 12, the United Nations released a report recording a sharp increase in world hunger in 2020. Approximately 811 million people were malnourished in 2020. This is about a tenth of the world’s population. At the UN, it is linked to the coronavirus pandemic. This report is the first serious study with a global assessment of the situation during the pandemic and a forecast of its consequences. The ban retells the main points of the report.

    Let’s check Zaborona’s review of this report.

    Who is starving?

    Almost half of all malnourished people are 418 million people living in Asia. More than a third – 282 million – live in Africa, and the smallest share, 60 million, live in Latin America and the Caribbean. However, the sharpest increase in hunger occurred in Africa, where malnutrition is a problem of 21% of the population. This is the highest rate of all the regions studied.

    The report notes that, in addition, about 2.3 billion people worldwide still do not have access to enough food all year round. In one year, the figure jumped as much as it had increased in the five years that preceded it. At the same time, for every ten men who have problems with access to food, there are 11 women.

    The report singles out children: more than 149 million children under the age of five have problems with growth or weight due to malnutrition.

    Three billion adults and children still do not have access to healthy food – primarily due to poverty. Almost a third of women of childbearing age suffer from anemia due to malnutrition. (This is a condition that lacks healthy red blood cells and/or hemoglobin to provide enough oxygen to body tissues).

    Why is this happening?

    The pandemic has threatened access to food in some parts of the world. It is estimated that about 9.9% of all people are malnourished in 2020 compared to 8.4% in 2019.

    However, even before the pandemic, there was a regression in the fight against malnutrition from the beginning of the year. This problem is especially characteristic of countries affected by conflicts, extreme climates, economic downturns, etc.

    What to do with it?

    Food systems should be promoted – a set of factors that determine the food character of a country’s economy: production, logistics, storage, food processing, marketing, trade, consumption traditions, waste management, and more. The report says that these programs are currently not working effectively enough.

    First, the UN advises states to integrate humanitarian aid and peacekeeping policies in conflict zones. For example, socially protect civilians so that families do not sell the latter in exchange for food.

    Second, resilience to climate change in these food systems should be increased. For example, you can insure small farms against climate risks.

    Third, increase resistance to economic disasters, for example, with the help of financial programs that ensure the population in case of unforeseen circumstances, such as a pandemic: additional business financing, social payments, etc.

    At the same time, it is essential to regulate food prices. States can influence this, for example, by encouraging the cultivation of vegetables, fruits, or cereals.

    States must also fight poverty and inequality in society, strengthen the food environment and change consumer behavior. For example, by reducing the salt and sugar content of foods and protecting children from the harmful effects of unhealthy food advertising.

    The report also calls for the creation of a “favorable environment for governance mechanisms and institutions.” States should discuss these issues, empower women and youth, and access data and new technologies.

    First of all, the authors urge the world must act now. Otherwise, in the coming years, long after the effects of the pandemic minutes, hunger and malnutrition will recover with renewed intensity.

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