821 Million People Face Food Deprivation

Wednesday, 12 September, 2018 - 05:00
Rome - London - Asharq Al-Awsat

World hunger rose in 2017 for a third consecutive year, fueled by conflict and climate change, the United Nations warned on Tuesday, saying the number of undernourished people reached 821 million people.

Hunger appears to be increasing in almost all of Africa and in South America, with 821 million people - one in nine – going hungry in 2017, according to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 report.

"Without increased efforts, there is a risk of falling far short of achieving the SDG target of hunger eradication by 2030," the report said, referring to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, adopted by member nations in 2015.

It was the third year in a row that global hunger levels have increased, following a decade of declines.

"The number of people who suffer from hunger has been growing over the past three years, returning to levels that prevailed almost a decade ago. Equally of concern is that 22.2 percent of children under five are affected by stunting in 2017," said the document.

Low- and middle-income countries, in particular, were harshly impacted by ever-more frequent climate extremes, the annual report "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World" said.

"Africa is the region where climate shocks and stressors had the biggest impact on acute food insecurity and malnutrition, affecting 59 million people in 24 countries and requiring urgent humanitarian action," it said.

Trends were also worsening in South America.

"If we are to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition in all its forms by 2030, it is imperative that we accelerate and scale up actions to strengthen the resilience and adaptive capacity of food systems and people's livelihoods in response to climate variability and extremes," it added.

In countries where conflict and climate shocks coincide, the impact on food insecurity was even more relentless, the report said. Nearly 66 million people worldwide required urgent humanitarian assistance last year.

Syria, where agriculture is one of the few sectors to have survived the seven-year war, saw its harvest hit by rising temperatures and drought.

Already down 40 percent from pre-conflict levels -- from 4 million tons to around 2.5 million tons --, Syria's cereal production "will suffer a new reduction" this year, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's director of emergencies Dominique Burgeon said.

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