Five years ago, the United Nations made it one of its goals to eradicate world hunger by 2030. That meant that every human being, even in the poorest countries, was to have adequate nourishment.
Recent statistics are still horrifying:
690 million people worldwide suffer from malnutrition,
144 million children have stunted growth,
47 million children show wasting and in 2018,
5.3 million children died before their fifth birthday, often from undernourishment.
The German aid organization Welthungerhilfe calls world hunger "the greatest moral and ethical failure of our generation." Even if the world average has improved, the differences between individual regions and countries are enormous. Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia are the regions with the worst hunger scores in the world.
What is stopping progress?
Simone Pott, a spokeswoman for Welthungerhilfe, says "crises and conflicts, along with poverty, inequality, bad health systems and the repercussions of climate change" are the main factors
The great unknown has entered into the equation: COVID-19 and its fallout. They are not considered in the latest report.
Mathias Mogge, the secretary-general of Welthungerhilfe, explained the fears. "The pandemic and its economic consequences have the potential to double the number of people who are affected by acute food crises," he says.
Economic slumps lead to falling revenue. For many countries, that will mean they can import less food. The UN's Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that this could lead to up to 80 million more people becoming malnourished just in countries with a net import of foodstuffs.
It has often been asked whether the economic consequences of the measures taken to curb the spread of the coronavirus are worse than the health problems caused by the virus itself — whether the cure is worse than the illness. Simone Pott believes this is true for many countries in the Global South. "The lockdown has had terrible consequences, especially for the millions of people who work in the informal sector," she says. "From one day to the next, they lost their incomes, local markets had to close and small farmers couldn't cultivate their fields any longer."
Ss far as eradication of hunger in the world by 2030 goes, she is not optimistic, either. "Unfortunately, we are not on track," Simone Pott says. "...Some 840 million people could be malnourished — and the effects of the coronavirus pandemic have not yet been factored in."