World hunger on the rise
The World Health Organization (WHO) on Saturday expressed alarm over the increase in the number of people experiencing hunger worldwide for the first time in more than a decade.
In a statement, the WHO disclosed that the new edition of the annual United Nations report on world food security and nutrition revealed that after steadily declining for over a decade, global hunger is on the rise again, affecting 815 million people in 2016 or 11 percent of the global population. Multiple forms of malnutrition are also threatening the health of millions worldwide, the report revealed.
The increase of 38 million people – compared with what was recorded last year – is due to the proliferation
of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks, according to The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017.
The report said some 155 million children aged under five are stunted (too short for their age); 52 million suffer from wasting, meaning their weight is too low for their height; while 41 million children are overweight.
Anaemia among women and adult obesity are also cause for concern. These trends are a consequence not only of conflict and climate change but also of sweeping changes in dietary habits as well as economic slowdowns, it also disclosed.
The report is 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.
“Over the past decade, conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature,” the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization 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 WHO said in their joint foreword to the report.
It was stressed that some of the highest proportions of food-insecure and malnourished children in the world are now concentrated in conflict zones.
“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,” the statement said.
Famine struck in parts of South Sudan for several months in early 2017, and there is a high risk that it could reoccur there as well as appear in other conflict-affected places, namely northeast Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen, the international experts noted.
On the other hand, they added, even in regions that are more peaceful droughts or floods linked in part to the El Niño weather phenomenon, as well as the global economic slowdown, have also seen food security and nutrition deteriorate. (Charina Clarisse L. Echaluce)