Some 132 million people can join the nearly 690 million who went hungry in 2019 this year, an increase driven by the covid-19, the UN announced today, marking World Food Day.
The situation led the United Nations to launch an appeal, under the motto “Cultivate, nourish, preserve. Together. Our actions are our future ”, to ask for solidarity and cooperation in the face of the threat posed by the pandemic to food security.
According to the United Nations, the coronavirus may push 83 to 132 million more people (depending on the economic scenario) this year to starvation situations.
In 2019, after a downward revision of China’s numbers, almost 690 million undernourished people (8.9% of the world population) were counted, 10 million more than in 2018.
Asia recorded the largest number of hungry people (381 million), followed by Africa (250 million) and Latin America and the Caribbean (48 million).
The number of hungry people around the world has been steadily increasing since 2014.
The World Food Program (WFP), which received the Nobel Peace Prize this month, does not hesitate to blame violence for the biggest food crises.
“The conflict comes at a price: a simple plate of rice and beans, for example, costs almost triple (plus 186%) of a person’s daily income in South Sudan,” exemplified the organization.
As WFP spokeswoman Norha Restrepo explained, many of the people to whom the program provides food assistance “have been forced to abandon their land, houses and jobs” to “flee conflicts”.
By the end of 2020, the number of people with acute hunger could reach 270 million, almost double the 149 million registered in 2019, due to the impact of covid-19.
The WFP, which helped nearly 100 million people in more than 80 countries in 2019, tried for many years to save lives in disaster situations, but is now also trying to “change lives through the link between food security and development”, helping communities to be “resilient,” said Norha Restrepo.
The pandemic is “reducing people’s ability to buy food, as many have lost their income and livelihoods, and disrupting food supply chains causing an economic recession,” said the deputy director of Development Economics Organization of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN, Marco Sánchez Cantillo.
Currently, it is not just about eradicating extreme hunger, but also other forms of food insecurity, “directly linked to all forms of malnutrition, including overweight and obesity,” he explained.
The official stressed that healthy diets are five times more expensive than those that only cover energy needs and recommends that governments take measures to reduce the hunger of the most vulnerable and ensure that they have access to nutritious food in the current crisis, increasing aid emergency food and social protection programs.
In addition to the emergency response, the pandemic exposed the flaws in the food system, a system that is “spoiled”, stressed the deputy vice president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Marie Haga.
“Most of the people who are hungry and in poverty live in the countryside and the majority work in agriculture”, recalled the official, adding that she considered it essential to provide producers with adequate knowledge and tools to produce food in a more sustainable way and invest more in the fight against poverty.
According to a recent report by the organization, international donors needed to double their investments, reaching 50 billion dollars (almost 42.7 billion euros) a year, to eradicate hunger by 2030.
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