Global hunger rises for first time in decade: UN agen­cies


ROME: Global hunger lev­els have risen for the first time in more than a decade, now af­fect­ing 11 per­cent of the world’s pop­u­la­tion, as con­flict, cli­mate change and eco­nomic woes bite, UN agen­cies said on Fri­day.

Last year, 815 mil­lion peo­ple were hun­gry — 38 mil­lion more than in 2015 — the five agen­cies said in the first global as­sess­ment since govern­ments set an in­ter­na­tional tar­get to elim­i­nate hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion by 2030, as one of a set of so-called Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals (SDGs).

The num­ber of hun­gry be­gan to rise in 2014, but this is the first time in more then a decade that the pro­por­tion of the global pop­u­la­tion go­ing hun­gry has risen.

About 489 mil­lion of the hun­gry are liv­ing in coun­tries af­fected by con­flict.

“Over the past decade, con­flicts have risen dra­mat­i­cally in num­ber and be­come more com­plex and in­tractable in na­ture,” the heads of five UN agen­cies said in The State of Food Se­cu­rity and Nu­tri­tion in the World 2017 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,” they said.

Famine struck parts of South Su­dan ear­lier this year, and there is a high risk that it could re­turn there — and de­velop in other coun­tries af­fected by con­flict: North­east Nige­ria, So­ma­lia and Ye­men, the agen­cies said.

The report was pro­duced by the UN Food and Agri­cul­ture Or­ga­ni­za­tion (FAO), In­ter­na­tional Fund for Agri­cul­tural Devel­op­ment (IFAD), UN Chil­dren’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Pro­gramme (WFP) and World Or­ga­ni­za­tion (WHO). Health

Hunger and war

The agen­cies called for new ways of work­ing to achieve the goal of end­ing hunger and mal­nu­tri­tion by 2030.

“It’s not only about meet­ing need, but also end­ing the need and ad­dress­ing the root causes of hunger,” Zla­tan Mil­isic, WFP’s deputy di­rec­tor of pro­grams told the Thom­son Reuters Foun­da­tion.

In war-torn coun­tries, it means agen­cies need to spend more time un­der­stand­ing the com­plex­i­ties of the con­flict and work­ing to­ward build­ing peace, he said.

“We have a lot of re­search... which says food in­se­cu­rity doesn’t di­rectly lead to con­flict, but it is a very pow­er­ful trig­ger... (and) food se­cu­rity has been as seen as a con­trib­u­tor to main­tain­ing peace,” Mil­isic said.

Aid can some­times in­crease ten­sions in a com­mu­nity. For ex­am­ple, un­less aid for refugees sup­ports their hosts as well, it may raise ten­sions with those fam­i­lies — who are of­ten poor them­selves with lit­tle ac­cess to ba­sic ser­vices.

About 155 mil­lion chil­dren un­der five years old are stunted due to lack of food and proper di­ets. (Reuters)

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