The number of food insecure people in Bangladesh rose 2.4 percent to 5.2 crore between 2018 and 2020, according to a recent study by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, while the pandemic has worsened access to food.
According to the report titled “Asia and the Pacific – Regional Food Security and Nutrition Overview 2021”, up to 31.9% of the population of Bangladesh has experienced moderate to severe food security.
That’s lower than that of South Asia – which is the grouping for Bangladesh – by an average of 43.8 percent.
People face moderate food insecurity when they are unsure of their ability to obtain food and have been forced to reduce, sometimes during the year, the quality and / or quantity of food available. ‘they consume for lack of money or other resources.
Severe food insecurity means that people likely ran out of food, suffered from hunger and, at worst, went for days without eating, putting their health and well-being at serious risk.
In the previous two years, the number of people facing moderate or severe food insecurity in Bangladesh stood at 5.08 crore, or 31.5% of the population.
Although the FAO has not attributed the increase to the pandemic, it says the global public health crisis, which has affected Bangladesh as much as any other country in the region, has had a serious impact.
There are mainly two reasons for the increase in food insecurity, Mahbubul Mokaddem, chairman of the economics department at Dhaka University, told the Daily Star.
“If food production decreases, food insecurity increases. If the price of food increases, the ability of people to purchase food decreases. We need to examine what could be the reasons for this increase.
Besides, Bangladesh suffers from another phenomenon, he said.
“The gap between rich and poor is growing day by day. This could be another reason for growing food insecurity,” Akash added.
According to a recent report from a Paris-based research organization, only 1% of the population of Bangladesh holds 16.3% of total national income in 2021 and the bottom half 17.1%, making it the epitome of a poor and unequal country.
Bangladesh is one of seven countries in the Asia-Pacific region where the prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity is above 30 percent, according to the report released Wednesday.
The other countries are Afghanistan, Cambodia, Iran, Kiribati, Nepal and the Philippines.
In Bangladesh, the number of severely food insecure people has steadily declined compared to 2014. In 2020, around 1.7 crore faced severe food insecurity – or around 10 percent of the population – compared to around 2 crore. , 07 crore in 2014.
The prevalence of severe food insecurity in the Asia-Pacific region was 10.3 percent in 2020, with the highest being in South Asia (19.9 percent).
Bangladesh has made a good improvement in reducing the prevalence of undernourishment: in 2020, 9.7 percent of the population remains undernourished – which is closer to the Asia-Pacific average of 7.9 percent – up from 15.2 percent in 2011.
In 2020, 14.1% of the population of South Asia was undernourished.
The number of undernourished people in Bangladesh stood at 1.59 crore at the end of last year, up from 2 crore in 2018.
The report also looked at the number of undernourished and stunted people in children under five in the Asia-Pacific region.
Bangladesh is one of 10 countries in Asia and the Pacific with a “very high prevalence” of stunting according to World Health Organization criteria.
About 30.2 percent of children under five in Bangladesh are stunted, which is low height for age and is the result of chronic malnutrition.
While the prevalence has declined dramatically since 2000 – when 56 percent of children were stunted – it is still too high, according to the report.
Other countries with very high prevalence of stunting are Afghanistan, India, Indonesia, Laos, Marshall Islands, Nepal, Pakistan, Papua New Guinea and Timor-Leste .
Almost 23% of children in the Asia and the Pacific region are still stunted, according to the report.