UN: world hunger was dramatically worse in pandemic year

Jul 12, 2021, 7:55 AM | Updated: 7:18 pm
Residents of Oworonshoki Slum carry their food parcels distributed by the Lagos Food Bank Initiativ...

Residents of Oworonshoki Slum carry their food parcels distributed by the Lagos Food Bank Initiative, a non-profit nutrition focused initiative committed to fighting hunger and solving problems of Malnutrition for poor communities , in Lagos, Nigeria, Saturday, July 10, 2021. (AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

(AP Photo/Sunday Alamba)

ROME (AP) — The United Nations on Monday lamented a “dramatic worsening” of world hunger last year, saying much of that is likely connected to the pandemic, and it urged billions of dollars to save millions of people from starving.

A report issued jointly by five U.N. agencies said hunger outpaced population growth in 2020, with nearly 10% of all people estimated to be undernourished.

It said the sharpest rise in hunger came in Africa, where 21% of the people — 282 million — are estimated to be undernourished.

U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said the new “tragic data” shows that between 720 million and 811 million people in the world faced hunger last year — as many as 161 million more than in 2019.

More than 2.3 billion people, which represents 30% of the global population, lacked year-round access to adequate food, according to the report. This indicator, known as the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity, leaped in one year as much as in the five previous years combined.

“Despite a 300% increase in global food production since the mid-1960s, malnutrition is a leading factor contributing to reduced life expectancy,” the U.N. chief said. “In a world of plenty, we have no excuse for billions of people to lack access to a healthy diet. This is unacceptable.”

Emily Farr of the humanitarian organization Oxfam said the pandemic was the last straw for millions of people already battered by the impacts of conflict, economic shocks and a worsening climate crisis.

Children paid a high price, with 149 million of those younger than 5 estimated to have stunted growth since they are too short for their age, and more than 45 million children are too thin for their height, the report said. It also noted the paradoxical problem of nearly 39 million children being overweight.

“A full 3 billion adults and children remain locked out of healthy diets, largely due to excessive costs,´´ the U.N. agencies said, and COVID-19 made things worse.

“In many parts of the world, the pandemic has triggered brutal recessions and jeopardized access to food,´´ the United Nations said in a summary of its findings. “Yet even before the pandemic, hunger was spreading; progress on malnutrition lagged.”

“Disturbingly, in 2020 hunger shot up in both absolute and proportional terms, outpacing population growth,” the report’s authors concluded. The report said some 9.9% of the world’s people were estimated to have been undernourished last year, compared to 8.4% in 2019.

Geographically, in addition to the surge of Africans facing hunger, more than half the undernourished people — 418 million — live in Asia, while 60 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to the report.

Oxfam’s Farr said the new figures “are a somber reminder of how broken our global food and economic systems are.”

“More than half the world’s population did not have social protection to cope with the adverse effects of the pandemic,” she said. “Small farmers were forced to watch their crops rot during the pandemic, even when global food prices rose by 40%, while the biggest food companies have amassed over $10 billion of additional revenues last year.”

The United Nations said the pandemic undercut a key U.N. goal of achieving zero hunger by 2030. Based on current trends, it estimates that the goal will be “missed by a margin of nearly 660 million people,” and that some 30 million of that figure “may be linked to the pandemic’s lasting effects.”

Guterres said he is convening a global Food Systems Summit during this September’s annual meeting of world leaders at the General Assembly “to urgently make a change.” He said a pre-summit meeting in Rome at the end of this month is to work out “how we must address hunger, the climate emergency, incredible inequality and conflict, by transforming our food systems.”

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report was prepared by U.N. agencies including the Rome-based Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program and the International Fund for Agricultural Development. The other two agencies were the the United Nations Children’s Fund, commonly known as UNICEF, which is based in New York, and the World Health Organization, or WHO, headquartered in Geneva.

Among the U.N.’s recommendations was one calling for strengthening “the resilience of the most vulnerable to economic adversity,” such as through programs to lessen the impact “pandemic-style shocks” or steep food price increases.

Maximo Torero, the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization’s chief economist, said removing 100 million people from chronic undernourishment would require an additional $14 billion a year until 2030 — and to achieve the goal of zero hunger by 2030 “we were talking about $40 billion.”

___

Lederer reported from the United Nations

Copyright © The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

AP

Associated Press

Dutch farmers block entrances to supermarket warehouses

THE HAGUE, Netherlands (AP) — Dutch farmers angry at government plans to slash emissions used tractors and trucks Monday to blockade supermarket distribution centers, the latest actions in a summer of discontent in the country’s lucrative agricultural sector. The Netherlands’ busiest aviation hub, Schiphol Airport, urged travelers to use public transport to get to its […]
2 hours ago
Associated Press

Iran TV: Sandstorm shuts offices, schools in Tehran, region

TEHRAN, Iran (AP) — Schools and government offices closed in Iran’s capital and several other cities in the country on Monday, after yet another sandstorm blanketed Tehran and the surrounding region. State-run TV warned of poor air quality and advised the elderly, those sick and children to take precautions. Banks and the Tehran Stock Exchange […]
2 hours ago
Associated Press

Canadian government: Tycoon in China due to stand trial

BEIJING (AP) — A Chinese-born Canadian tycoon is being put on trial in China, Canada’s government said Monday, five years after he vanished from Hong Kong during an anti-corruption crackdown. Xiao Jianhua was due to stand trial Monday, a government statement said. It said Canadian diplomats were “monitoring this case closely” and provided unspecified services […]
2 hours ago
Associated Press

Data puts Turkey’s annual inflation at 78.6%, a 24-year high

ISTANBUL (AP) — Annual inflation in Turkey hit 78.62% in June, the highest rate since 1998, according to official data released Monday. The Turkish Statistical Institute, or TurkStat, released the monthly figures as Turkey is experiencing a deepening cost-of-living crisis. Consumer prices rose by 4.95% on a monthly basis, the institute reported. While many countries […]
2 hours ago
A person walks past a notice for customers posted on the entrance of an "au" mobile brand operator ...
Associated Press

Outages disrupt services at Japan’s No. 2 telecoms carrier

TOKYO (AP) — Many users of Japan’s No. 2 mobile carrier KDDI Corp. were still having trouble making calls Monday after a massive outage throughout the weekend that affected nearly 40 million people, disrupting deliveries, weather reports and other services across the country. The company said data transmission had largely been restored by Monday morning, […]
2 hours ago
Residential properties and roads are submerged under floodwater from the swollen Hawkesbury River i...
Associated Press

3 feet of rain sets up 4th round of flood misery for Sydney

SYDNEY (AP) — More than 30,000 residents of Sydney and its surrounds were told to evacuate or prepare to abandon their homes Monday as Australia’s largest city faces its fourth, and possibly worst, round of flooding in less than a year and a half. Days of torrential rain caused dams to overflow and waterways to […]
2 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

Vaccines are safe if you are pregnant or breastfeeding

Are you pregnant? Do you have a friend or loved one who’s expecting?
...
Day & Night Air

Tips to lower your energy bill in the Arizona heat

Does your summer electric bill make you groan? Are you looking for effective ways to reduce your bill?
...
Carla Berg, MHS, Deputy Director, Public Health Services, Arizona Department of Health Services

ADHS mobile program brings COVID-19 vaccines and boosters to Arizonans

The Arizona Department of Health Services and partner agencies are providing even more widespread availability by making COVID-19 vaccines available in neighborhoods through trusted community partners.
UN: world hunger was dramatically worse in pandemic year