In a new report, the people of Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Yemen were classified as “disasters”. This means they must take immediate action to prevent widespread death and livelihood collapse. This year’s report on food crises is the worst snapshot of global food insecurity yet. Thousands of displaced persons camp under trees in Minkaman in northeastern South Sudan (file photo). Credit: Andrew Green / IPSUNITED NATIONS, May 06 (IPS) – The COVID-19 pandemic, protracted conflict, and climate change have created an intolerable situation for the most vulnerable. 155 million people in 55 areas suffer from severe food insecurity and send acute hunger figures to a 5-year high.
This emerges from the Global Network Against Food Crises, an alliance of humanitarian partners who work to prevent hunger and respond to food crises. The network, established by the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP), released the results of its global report on food crises 2021 on Wednesday May 6th.
The partners have published an annual report on food crises since 2017. However, this year’s publication contains the crudest snapshot of global food insecurity to date. It was reported that 20 million more people suffered from acute hunger in 2020 than the previous year.
The report found that the goal of zero hunger by 2030 seemed “increasingly unattainable” by the end of 2020. 133,000 people in Burkina Faso, South Sudan and Yemen have been in a “disaster,” meaning they need immediate action to prevent widespread death and livelihood collapse.
In addition, it has been found that children in countries with food crises are particularly vulnerable to malnutrition. In the 55 countries surveyed during the food crisis, almost 16 million children under the age of five were acutely malnourished, while 75.2 million children under the age of five experienced stunted growth.
The network partners say it is possible to reverse the rising trend of food insecurity, but this requires urgent commitment, finance and action.
“Mankind can now pilot a helicopter drone and even split molecules to produce oxygen on the distant planet Mars. Yet here on earth, 155 million of our human families suffer from acute hunger and their lives and livelihoods are at risk because of a lack of basic food. The contrast is shocking and unacceptable, ”said FAO Director General Qu Dongyu.
The FAO chief says as the international and humanitarian community prepares for the United Nations Summit on Food Systems in September, the information in reports like this one should guide solutions to global hunger crises.
“This requires a bold transformation of the agricultural and food systems in order to be more efficient, more inclusive, more resilient and more sustainable. This includes developing early warning systems coupled with predictive measures to protect livelihoods and food security before a shock or threat occurs, ”he said.
Henrietta Fore, executive director of the UN Children’s Fund, told the launch that the situation was worrying. She said COVID-19 had worsened a fragile nutritional situation with its lockdowns, economic and social shocks.
“In virtually every crisis described in this year’s report, young children and marginalized, hard-to-reach populations are the most vulnerable,” she said. “These children and their communities must be our priority. We need to invest in data and information systems that allow us to identify vulnerabilities and risk at the sub-national level in key countries. This information is critical to making efficient use of resources and reaching children, their families, and their communities who are most needed. ”
While partners lament the astounding acute statistics on food insecurity, the outlook is just as bleak. They say the threat of famine persists in some of the world’s worst food crises.
“Tragically, this report is only the tip of the iceberg we face around the world,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of the WFP.
“The global picture is even gloomier when you consider that all countries are severely affected by hunger. For example, chronic hunger, which was 690 million, has now increased by an additional 130 million people. ”
The report predicts that while conflict will remain the leading cause of food crises in 2021, the economic fallout from COVID-19 will exacerbate acute food insecurity in fragile economies. 142 million people in 40 forecast areas are projected to be in a food crisis, emergency, or famine.
“In countries with protracted conflict, high levels of acute food insecurity will persist by restricting access to livelihoods and agricultural fields, uprooting people from their homes and increasing the dependency of displaced people on humanitarian aid for their basic needs,” it said Report.
The Global Network Against Food Crisis says humanitarian aid on its own is urgently needed, but not enough to deal with the magnitude of the current crises. The network says the answer lies in peace and a transformation of global food systems.
“A system in which the most vulnerable people continue to bear the greatest burden of global crises is broken. We must seize this opportunity to transform food systems, reduce the number of people in need of humanitarian food aid and make a meaningful contribution to sustainable development and peaceful and prosperous societies, ”it said.
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