Wednesday, July 06, 2022

Hunger to worsen

 The world is in the grip of an unprecedented hunger crisis. A toxic combination of climate crisis, conflict and Covid had already placed some of the poorest countries under enormous strain, but Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has sent grain and fuel prices soaring.

The number of people going hungry in the world has risen by 150 million since the start of the Covid pandemic, the UN has said.

It warned that the food crisis sparked by Russia’s invasion of Ukraine risks pushing the worst-hit countries into famine.

Globally, the number suffering from chronic undernourishment rose to 828 million last year, a rise of about 46 million on the previous year, and three times that increase if measured since the world shut down due to Covid. 

With the price of fuel, food staples and fertiliser soaring since the invasion of Ukraine, however, that total is expected to rise even further in the next year – a scenario that could see some of the world’s poorest fall into famine, the most extreme form of food deprivation.

 45 million children under five were suffering from wasting, the deadliest form of malnutrition, which increases children’s risk of death by up to 12 times. 

 149 million children under five had stunted growth and development due to a chronic lack of essential nutrients

Gilbert Houngbo, president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), said that, according to projections, chronic undernourishment would affect nearly 670 million people in 2030 – a similar figure to that of 2015, when the UN vowed to eradicate hunger by 2030 as part of the sustainable development goals.

“It means all the effort in those 15 years will have been wiped out by the different crises that the world is going through,” he explained.

“We thought it couldn’t get any worse,” said David Beasley, director of the UN World Food Programme (WFP), in June. “But this war has been devastating.” The ripple effect of Ukraine will cause it to rise even further in the months ahead – and that some countries will be pushed into famine as a result. “The result will be global destabilisation, starvation, and mass migration on an unprecedented scale,” he warned. “We have to act today to avert this looming catastrophe.”

Global hunger toll soars by 150 million as Covid and Ukraine war make their mark | Hunger | The Guardian

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