DURATION (TRT): 02’37”
SOURCE: UNTV CH
ASPECT RATIO: 16:9
DATELINE: 12 July 2023
FAO, WHO, UNICEF, WFP, IFAD Press Conference
LOCATION: GENEVA, SWITZERLAND
122 million more people pushed into hunger since 2019 amid multiple crises, reveals UN report
Approximately 735 million people face hunger today, compared to 613 million in 2019, the UN said on Wednesday.
The pandemic, repeated weather shocks and conflicts including the war in Ukraine are to blame, according to the latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report published jointly by five United Nations specialized agencies.
“Between 691 and 783 million people in the world faced hunger in 2022. If we consider the mid-range, which is about 735 million people, it is still 122 million people more who faced hunger in 2022 compared to 2019, before the pandemic,” said Marco Sanchez Cantillo, Deputy Director of Agrifood Economics Division at the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) at a press conference in Geneva.
According to FAO’s projections, almost 600 million people will still be facing hunger in 2030.
Asia and Latin America made progress in hunger reduction last year, but it was still on the rise in Western Asia, the Caribbean and throughout all subregions of Africa in 2022.
Africa remains the worst-affected region with one in five people facing hunger, more than twice the global average.
These trends jeopardize the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal target of Zero Hunger by 2030. Concerns are high too at the UN World Food Programme (WFP) which reports that 345 million people face acute food insecurity in the countries where it operates. “It’s a 200 million increase compared to 2020, it’s staggering,” emphasized Gian Carlo Cirri, Head of the Geneva Office. As a result, WFP has been scaling up its operations and reached an unprecedented 160 million people in 2022.
But “at the rate of incoming resources to address the food crisis, we expect there will be a 60 per cent gap in our operations, and this is of course, quite worrisome,” added Mr. Cirri.
While food insecurity affects both urban and rural households, it is strongest in rural areas, where 80 per cent of the world’s poorest people live. Many of them are small-scale farmers. They produce one-third of the world’s food and 70 per cent of the food in Africa and Asia, according to the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). “Meanwhile, they struggle to feed themselves and they bear the brunt of tremendous challenges, the least being climate change,” explained Ms. Hélène Papper, IFAD’s Director for Global Communications and Advocacy. “But they only receive 1.7 per cent of global climate finance. This is wrong and we must shift this terrible dichotomy,” she added, insisting that investment in agriculture is two to three times more effective at reducing poverty than investment in any other sector.
On a more positive note, the UN Children’s Fund, UNICEF, reported progress in exclusive breastfeeding: “48 percent of babies under six months of age benefit from this ultimate child survival practice, close to the 2025 target,” said UNICEF’s Chika Hayashi, Statistics and Monitoring Senior Advisor, Nutrition. However, more efforts will be required to meet the 2030 malnutrition targets and allow more people to access healthy diets.
With almost seven in 10 people projected to be living in cities by 2050, the report calls on governments to push for policies and legislation that support better rural-urban infrastructure and connectivity and that link small-scale producers and small agri-businesses to fair and lucrative markets.