Wanted: New Strategies to Reduce World HungerBy Sofía Hanna | Wed, 09/15/2021 - 13:16
World hunger is a growing problem that seems to have no solution. The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) stepped up its efforts to fight one of the most severe problems affecting communities worldwide by addressing food waste.
"We cannot end hunger and all forms of malnutrition if we do not reduce a large amount of food that is lost and wasted," says QU Dongyu, Director General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations of FAO. Food loss and waste occur throughout the supply chain, from crop to fork. Between the post-harvest and retail phases, about 14 percent of all food produced is lost, argues FAO. "With a large amount of food that is lost and wasted, valued at US$400 billion annually, it could feed about 1.260 million more people a year. According to the latest FAO estimates, there are 811 million undernourished people in the world and billions who can't afford healthy eating," said QU.
Threats to food security are increasing, especially in rural areas, requiring flexible strategies to fight these problems. "Over the past five years, the number of people affected by a food crisis has continued to rise, reaching 155 million people in 55 countries in 2020. Currently, more than 41 million people face food insecurity emergencies. Thus risking famine or similar conditions unless they receive immediate assistance to survive," says Rein Paulsen, FAO Director of Emergencies and Resilience. Humanitarian funding for the food sector remains inadequate despite the extensive evidence that preventive actions that allow vulnerable rural communities to become more resilient to disasters are far more cost-effective than providing assistance.
Since the pandemic began, poor communities around the world have repeatedly been sending a clear and urgent message: "We will die sooner from hunger than from COVID-19," as previously reported in MBN. By the end of 2021, the number of people in extreme poverty is expected to reach 745 million, 100 million more since the pandemic began. Among the regions and countries where the food crisis has worsened due to the pandemic, there are some places where the situation is particularly alarming: Yemen, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, Venezuela, the Sahel region in West Africa, Ethiopia, Sudan, Sudan of the South and Syria. According to Unicef, political instability weakens institutions and prevents them from taking measures to fight against the malnutrition of the population. Another factor is climate change, which may force over 9.2 million people to move due to droughts that damage crops and reduce drinking water. Finally, insecurity is endangering the world's population and COVID-19 has extended insecurity, affecting subsistence agriculture.