COVID has left hundreds of millions of people hungry around the world | Voice of America
The United Nations said on Monday that world hunger increased dramatically in 2020, largely due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic on the cost of and access to food.
“The reality is worse than expected,” said Arif Husain, chief economist of the World Food Program. “In just one year, the number of chronically hungry people has increased more than in the previous five years combined. ”
In its annual report on the state of food security and nutrition, written by five United Nations agencies, the conclusions were striking: nearly one in three people across the planet, or 2.37 billion people, did not have access to an almost 320 million people in a single year. Reversing such high levels of chronic hunger could take decades.
The United Nations also fears that the world is moving further away from its goal of eliminating hunger and malnutrition by 2030. The report warns that 660 million people could still face hunger by that target date, in partly because of the pandemic implications. The UN has said that is 30 million more people than if the pandemic had not occurred.
“If that’s not a wake-up call, I don’t know what it is,” said David Beasley, executive director of the World Food Program.
Asia and Africa have been the hardest hit.
“More than half of the world’s undernourished people live in Asia – 418 million – and more than a third in Africa – around 282 million,” said Qu Dongyu, director general of the Food and Agriculture Organization. agriculture.
Children were particularly affected. Millions of people have been deprived of school meals due to closures during the pandemic. For many, it is their only reliable daily meal.
Stunting and wasting in children has increased over the past year, as has overweight – an effect of poor nutrition.
In addition to COVID-19, conflict and the impact of climate change on agriculture have also affected the global food supply.
In total, the UN has said that some 41 million people in 43 countries are on the brink of famine, and it won’t take much to push them through.
“To think we’re going to end hunger by 2030, that’s not even possible given the direction, the trajectory we’re on right now,” Beasley said. “If we don’t take these issues very seriously, you are going to have mass starvation, destabilization of nations and mass migration. ”