Following the publication of the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 Report by the UN Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO), Action Against Hunger is alarmed by the steady rise in the number of people suffering from hunger, a terrible toll that the COVID-19 pandemic will further exacerbate.
In 2019, an estimated 2 billion people did not have access to safe nutritious and sufficient food; impacts of COVID-19 may add an additional 83 to 132 million undernourished people globally in 2020. Action Against Hunger urges decision-makers and governments everywhere to take rapid action: there is an urgent need to transform food systems to make them sustainable, resilient, and more equitable.
After years of progress and gradual decline, hunger has been steadily rising since 2014. The number of undernourished people rose again in 2019, affecting 690 million people. While the last three State of Food Security and Nutrition reports focused on the major causes of hunger (conflicts, the climate crisis, economic inequalities), this year’s report provides recommendations to make nutritious and sustainable food accessible to all by transforming food systems.
Action Against Hunger, which works in nearly 50 countries around the world, reports deteriorating food security in the areas we operate: "We are already seeing the pandemic’s devastating impact on people in the communities where we work. The spread of COVID-19 and its socioeconomic consequences have reduced trade, increased food prices, and destroyed the livelihoods of those who can least afford it – the world’s most vulnerable people," says Dr. Charles E. Owubah, CEO of Action Against Hunger.
If the world wants to make healthy and nutritious food affordable, the report outlines how we must also reduce enormous health and climatic costs to our society caused by an unhealthy and unsustainable food system.
"If nothing is done, this report confirms that the global goal of achieving "Zero Hunger” by 2030 will not be possible,” continues Owubah. "Transformation of our food systems is required to make them sustainable, resilient and equitable, and to end hunger. Action Against Hunger believes the needs of the smallholder farmers and their centrality in the food system must be at the heart of this transformation, in the North as well as in the South."
In a report published last week, Action Against Hunger warned of the threat of a food crisis in 2020 as a direct and indirect consequence of the COVID-19 pandemic in countries already affected by humanitarian crises. Moreover, this crisis shines a light on systemic, social, and geographical inequalities and has considerably worsened poor people’s access to food and diet diversity in some areas, as well as seasonal variations in food and nutritional security.
Action Against Hunger calls on world leaders and international decision-making bodies to learn from this pandemic, and to anticipate and act using prediction tools and evidence.
“Many countries around the world have taken significant actions in response to COVID-19. This shows us that the lack of action on hunger is not simply about limited resources, but instead, a lack of political will to improve the lives of millions around the world,” says Dr. Owubah. "We call on all countries to act now to respond to the causes of hunger, make nutrition-sensitive investments and take policy actions that create opportunities for the most vulnerable, especially those most affected by conflict and climate change, which continue to drive up hunger.”