As progress in eliminating hunger stalls, 820 million people remain malnourished warns FAO
Due to the increasing levels of global hunger, the goal of ending malnutrition in all its forms by 2030 has become more challenging. In collaboration with the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) has organised a global conference to achieve Zero Hunger worldwide.
According to a join report published by FAO and four other UN agencies, approximately 820 million people worldwide are malnourished.
Jose Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General, commented:
“This is the third consecutive year that progress in ending hunger has stalled and now has actually increased. More than 820 million people are hungry and many more are malnourished. Child stunting is a major problem and nearly two billion still suffer from hidden hunger or a deficiency of important nutrients. This also includes people who are overweight or obese."
Although there are major challenges in attaining Zero Hunger, IFPRI and FAO believe that the goal is still achievable.
Shenggen Fan, IFPRI Director General, noted:
“Many countries – from China, to Ethiopia, to Bangladesh, to Brazil – have achieved remarkable reductions in hunger and malnutrition, and those successes hold important lessons for the places currently struggling to make significant progress.”
The Asia-Pacific region has the highest total number of undernourished people at 60 percent, while Africa is the hungriest continent per capita. In order for the Asia-Pacific region to attain Zero Hunger by 2030, the countries within the region need to mutually lift 110,000+ people out of hunger every day for the next 12 years.
Along with the surge in global hunger, there is an increase in obesity, which creates an entire different set of economic and health challenges in the future. However, by the harnessing of new technologies, improvements in public policies and focused investments, many countries have made tremendous strides in sustainably reducing hunger and malnutrition.
In countries such as Bangladesh, innovative public policies to strengthen nutrition and agriculture have helped them to achieve the fastest reductions in child stunting. Policies that support agricultural growth, family planning, women’s empowerment, greater access to water and sanitation, and growing school attendance have reinforced one another to establish an environment of improved nutrition and food security for people in Bangladesh.
Ethiopia and Brazil decreased the threat of hunger and modified their food systems due to social protection programmes and targeted investments in agricultural research and development (R&D).
Advances in technology are helping to deliver better nutrition to countries around the world. In places such as India and Zambia, improving the nutritional value of staple foods through fortification helps to decrease the incidence of health conditions, such as anemia. Conservation agriculture, precision farming, drip irrigation and drought and flood resistant staples are additional examples of tools that can help to produce sustainable, nutritious food.
Graziano da Silva added:
“We need to work closely together more than ever, sharing with each other those successful experiences. If we can accelerate this knowledge exchange, then we can accelerate its implementation and take actions that are more concrete. We must accelerate our actions to end hunger and malnutrition. But we also need stronger political will and greater financial commitment to get the job done. Political will is fundamental.”
The AIDF Global Summit will return to Washington in 2019.
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Photo Credit: FAO