The number of people who are suffering from global hunger is increasing; 815 million people were affected in 2016 which is 38 million more people than the previous year, according to a new edition of the annual United Nations report on world food security and nutrition.
While 11 per cent of the global population is hungry, multiple forms of malnutrition are also threatening the health of millions worldwide. The rise has been associated largely with the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks.
There are a reported 155 million children aged under five who are stunted and 52 million suffer from wasting, meaning their weight is too low for their height, while an estimated 41 million children are now overweight.
Anaemia among women and adult obesity were among other mentioned causes for concern, attributed not only to conflict and climate change but also as a result of sweeping changes in dietary habits as well as economic slowdowns.
The heads of the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said in their joint foreword to the report: “This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore: we will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end”.
They highlighted the high risk that a famine will reoccur in South Sudan, as it did for several months in early 2017, as well as in other conflict-affected places, such as northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen.
Out of the 815 million hungry people on the planet, 489 million live in countries affected by conflict. People living in countries affected by protracted crises are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be undernourished than people elsewhere.
This report was the first UN global assessment on food security and nutrition to be released following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, which aims to end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 as a top international policy priority.