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Report: “World Food Security and Nutrition Status”

Report “World Food Security and Nutrition Status” by FAO heavily challenged the possibility of reaching the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) “zero hunger by 2030”. During the last three years the number of people suffering from hunger increased. In 2018, 821 million people were hungry and malnourished. And for over 2 billion people it wasn’t possible to talk about healthy eating. The two main indicators used to monitor progress in eradicating hunger in the world are the prevalence of undernourishment, or PoU (SDG Indicator 2.1.1) and moderate or severe food insecurity based on the FIES (SDG Indicator 2.1.2) . Both of these indicators show worrying levels, especially in Africa (in percentage terms compared to the population) and in Asia (as absolute values). Cindy Holleman, one of the authors of the report, raised the alarm: 96 million people around the world “must receive food or be able to access water resources or they will die”. Three the main causes of this increasing: regional conflicts, climate change and the global economic slowdown. About 9.2% of the world’s population has been exposed to severe levels of food insecurity in 2018. An additional 17.2% of the world’s population, 1.3 billion people, who have experienced food insecurity at moderate levels, which means that they have not had regular access to nutritious and sufficient food. The combination of moderate and severe levels of food insecurity brings the total to 26.4% of the world population, equal to about 2 billion people. The data reported in the report highlight an aspect repeatedly emphasized: in spite of the promises made for decades, the gap between rich and poor countries is increasing, as well as the consequences for humans that derive from it. More than half of the world’s countries are forced to face a “global inequality” that puts people’s lives at risk. Widespread poverty often leads people to resort to unhealthy, but generally cheaper, foods, as evidenced by the increasing rate of overweight and obesity in these countries: no region is free from another problem, that of obesity and levels of overweight that the report calls “epidemics”. An inequality that affects children first and foremost. According to the FAO, around 149 million children are malnourished. Nine tenths of them live in only two continents: Africa and Asia. Since 2017, the downward trend in malnutrition in the world has reversed course and has slowly begun to grow again. But while the global level of the PoU has undergone reduced variations (it remains below 11 percent), the total number of undernourished (NoU) has increased. And for several consecutive years. One person out of nine suffers from hunger. But all over the planet in different ways! In Europe and the USA this percentage is less than 2.5%. In Asia this percentage ranges from 5 to almost 15%, with higher values ​​in the south where the data is influenced by India, and to the Middle East, for too many years a victim of “missions of peace”. In the African continent, this percentage is muc higher: in East Africa it reaches over 30%. Out of a population of 1.288 billion Africans, 676 million suffer from moderate or severe food insecurity and of these 277 million are in serious insecurity. The result are everywhere the same: maternal and child malnutrition is the cause or cause of 45% of deaths in children under five. According to FAO experts, hunger, measured by the prevalence of malnutrition (PoU), is on the rise in many countries where the economy has slowed or contracted. Surprisingly, most countries (44 out of 65) are middle-income. Only 19 (out of 65) are low-income countries, of which 17 are located in Africa. To this we must add another relevant geopolitical aspect (and which explains the prolongation of certain effects in the medium term): economic shocks are rarely the main engines of food crises, they usually worsen the severity of the already existing acute food insecurity. 96 million people who suffered from acute food insecurity in 2018 lived in 33 countries where the economy was experiencing economic shocks of rising unemployment, lack of regular work, currency depreciation and high food prices. The economy of most of these countries (27 out of 33) was contracting, based on the growth of real GDP per capita for 2015-2017. In the same way, think of the phenomenon of the increase of “hunger” in the Middle East, in contexts of food crisis there is a clear correlation link between conflicts, slowdowns and economic recessions. In 2018 conflicts and insecurity were the main drivers of food crises in 21 countries, 14 of which have suffered profound economic recessions with a negative average difference of 2.4 percentage points in economic growth between the years 2014 and 2017. Food crises, world hunger and death that don’t seem to interest the warld, though. C.Alessandro Maucer



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