World Hunger Spiked in 2020 Due to the Pandemic, U.N. Report Says

The organization's officials urged the world to secure the funds and transform their global food supply system to provide for those in need.

By Costas Vasilopoulos
Jul. 29, 2021 07:18 UTC

The Covid-19 pan­demic has caused hunger to cast a heav­ier shadow over human­ity, a report com­piled by five agen­cies of the United Nations found.

In 2020, the under­nour­ished peo­ple on the planet rose to 768 mil­lion, almost 10 per­cent of the world’s entire pop­u­la­tion, com­pared to 650 mil­lion only a year ago, the report said.

Our worst fears are com­ing true. Reversing such high lev­els of chronic hunger will take years if not decades.- Arif Husain, chief econ­o­mist, U.N. World Food Program

The per­cent­age of peo­ple suf­fer­ing from hunger had remained vir­tu­ally unchanged for five years before the advent of the pan­demic.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World’ report, the first to assess the impact of the pan­demic on food secu­rity world­wide, also indi­cated that Africa was the region hit hard­est by the ris­ing lev­els of hunger.

See Also:EPA Plans to Tackle Food Waste in Effort to Reduce Carbon Emissions

A total of 282 mil­lion peo­ple, which trans­lates to 21 per­cent of its pop­u­la­tion, the high­est per­cent­age of any other region in the world, faced the threat of hunger in 2020. More than half of the world’s under­nour­ished peo­ple, how­ever, 418 mil­lion, live in Asia.

Unfortunately, the pan­demic con­tin­ues to expose weak­nesses in our food sys­tems, which threaten lives and liveli­hoods,” the U.N. agen­cies that co-authored the report said in a joint state­ment. No region of the world has been spared.”

The authors of the report also warned that the goal of the U.N. to elim­i­nate world hunger by 2030 might no longer be real­is­tic.

Our worst fears are com­ing true,” Arif Husain, the chief econ­o­mist of the U.N. World Food Program (WFP), said. Reversing such high lev­els of chronic hunger will take years if not decades.”

The head of WFP, on the other hand, David Beasley, was crit­i­cal of the inca­pac­ity of the world to gather the funds required to fight global hunger.

The fact that we’re beg­ging and scream­ing [for funds] is a dis­grace on the face of human­ity,” Beasley said.

Global food inse­cu­rity, defined as the lack of con­sis­tent access to enough food for all per­sons in a house­hold, had already started to re-emerge in the mid-2010s after decades of decline.

Limited access to food became more pro­found in coun­tries affected by eco­nomic slumps, cli­mate change, and con­flict, and fur­ther dete­ri­o­rated due to the Covid-19 pan­demic.

António Guterres, the sec­re­tary-gen­eral of the United Nations, called for action to cre­ate a food sup­ply sys­tem to pro­vide for peo­ple deprived of suf­fi­cient food resources.

In a world of plenty, we have no excuse for bil­lions to lack access to a healthy diet,” Guterres said. This is why I’m con­ven­ing a global Food Systems Summit this September.”

“[Investing in] changes in our food sys­tems will ini­ti­ate a shift to a safer, fairer, more sus­tain­able world,” he added. It is one of the smartest – and most nec­es­sary invest­ments we can make.”

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