Conflict Alerts

Conflict Alerts # 126, 15 July 2020

Compounded by COVID-19 pandemic,  global hunger likely to rise by 2030, warns the UN report
Sukanya Bali

In the news
On 13 July the United Nations released a report on the state of food security and nutrition in the world that takes stock of the prevailing situation and foresees the impact of the pandemic on food security. The UN concluded in the report that the number of people suffering from hunger in the world has increased by 10 million from 2019 and had estimated that 130 million more may face chronic hunger by the end of 2020 due to COVID-19 pandemic.  

The UN chief has spelled out that if the current trend continues, “we will not achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2.0 – zero hunger – by 2030.” Reiterating the same, the Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said, ‘the report sends a sobering message even as countries continue to grapple with malnutrition in all its forms, including the growing burden of obesity. 

Issues at large
First, lockdown from pandemic disrupts global food security. The pandemic has increased the vulnerabilities and threw light on the inadequacies in the food system in different countries. Pandemic has led to loss of livelihoods, disruptions in food supply chains, migration, and fall in remittances that have affected production, distribution, and consumption of food. With several economies in lockdown and the modes of food transportation in disarray, the UN has cautioned that by the end of 2020 the rate of chronic hunger is slated to increase.

Second, the number of undernourished people grows rapidly in Africa. In Africa 19.1 per cent of its population is undernourished and is worsening and in Asia and Latin America, 8.3 and 7.4 per cent of the population is undernourished. The current trends may lead Africa to become the world’s “chronically hungry". According to the report, the present 690 million undernourished and hungry people, is projected to rise to 840 million people by 2030.

The UN stated that "over the past five years, tens of millions of people have become 'chronically undernourished’" and also highlighted, that the “world has been committed to end hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition, but is still off the track to achieve the objective by 2030”.

Third, the world continues to grapple with different forms of malnutritionThe food security survey states that around three billion people could not afford a healthy diet. A healthy diet is more expensive and costs more than 1.90 dollar a day which is the current benchmark to estimate international poverty. In 2019, 191 million children under five were too short or too thin, while another 38 million were overweight.

In perspective 
First, the increasing food insecurity and deficiency of food supply is bound to have a heavy impact on the people. The rising hunger will slowly bring to the forefront the marginalisation and the societal inequalities that has long being ignored by the state. With countries weakened by capital, the lack of access to food will further compound the poverty level making it difficult for the developing and least developed countries to eradicate it and adept the human development approach.

Second, the report also brings out that if the numbers of people suffering from hungry has increased since 2014 it indicates a consistent lack of proper food distribution infrastructure and welfare measures in the countries. The pandemic has put in jeopardy the globalised system of dependency and with the access to food produce being stopped, its time the countries pay a closer attention to the national food security policies and principles.

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