The latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report, jointly published by five United Nations specialized agencies, highlights the alarming rise in global hunger. Over 122 million more people are now facing hunger compared to 2019, primarily due to the impact of the pandemic, weather shocks, and conflicts such as the war in Ukraine. The report serves as a warning that the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030 is at risk of not being achieved.
The Alarming Increase in Global Hunger:
According to the report, between 691 and 783 million people experienced hunger in 2022, representing a significant increase of 122 million people compared to pre-pandemic levels in 2019. Despite a stall in global hunger numbers between 2021 and 2022, numerous regions worldwide are facing deepening food crises.
Hunger Reduction Challenges and Regional Disparities:
While Asia and Latin America have witnessed progress in reducing hunger, Western Asia, the Caribbean, and various subregions of Africa have experienced a rise in hunger. Africa remains the worst-affected region, with one in five people facing hunger, more than twice the global average.
Urgent Global Efforts Needed:
Leaders and agencies emphasize the urgency of global efforts to address the worsening hunger crisis. UN Secretary-General António Guterres calls for immediate action to build resilience against the crises and shocks driving food insecurity, including conflicts and climate change. The heads of the five UN agencies stress the daunting challenge of achieving the Zero Hunger target by 2030 and the need to transform agrifood systems to reach the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) targets.
Food Insecurity and Nutrition Challenges:
The report reveals that approximately 29.6 percent of the global population, around 2.4 billion people, faced moderate or severe food insecurity in 2022. Additionally, more than 3.1 billion people, or 42 percent of the world’s population, could not afford a healthy diet in 2021, representing a significant increase compared to 2019.
Urbanization’s Impact on Food Security:
The report highlights the growing impact of urbanization on food consumption and nutrition. As urbanization trends continue to shape agrifood systems, policymakers must consider the complex rural-urban continuum and the changing dynamics between urban and rural areas. The study documents the significance of food purchases across the rural-urban continuum, including peri-urban and rural areas, where the consumption of highly processed foods is also increasing.
Spatial Inequalities and Malnutrition:
Food insecurity and malnutrition display specific patterns in urban and rural areas. Moderate or severe food insecurity affects a higher percentage of adults in rural areas compared to urban areas. Similarly, child stunting and wasting rates are higher in rural areas, while urban areas experience a slightly higher prevalence of overweight children.
The SOFI report emphasizes the critical need for comprehensive policy interventions and investments to address global hunger and food security. Urgent action is required to counter the increasing challenges posed by the pandemic, conflicts, climate change, and other factors that perpetuate food insecurity and malnutrition.
By understanding the complexities of the rural-urban continuum and transforming agrifood systems, sustainable progress can be made towards achieving the Zero Hunger goal by 2030.