Global hunger levels rose again last year after soaring in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic, war in Ukraine and climate change threatening starvation and mass migration to a “unprecedented scale” this year, according to UN agencies.
Up to 828 million people, nearly 10% of the world’s population, were hit by hunger last year, 46 million more than in 2020 and 150 million more than in 2019, agencies say. such as the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the World Food Program and Global Health. the Organization said in the 2022 edition of the United Nations Food Security and Nutrition Report.
Global hunger levels remained relatively unchanged between 2015 and 2019.
“There is a real danger that these numbers will increase even more in the coming months,” said WFP executive director David Beasley, adding that the spikes in food, fuel and fertilizer prices resulting from the Russian war -Ukrainian threaten to push the countries into famine.
“The result will be global destabilization, starvation and mass migration on an unprecedented scale. We must act today to avert this impending catastrophe,” he added.
Russia and Ukraine are the world’s third and fourth largest grain exporters respectively, while Russia is also a key exporter of fuel and fertilizer.
The war has disrupted their exports, pushed global food prices to record highs and sparked protests in developing countries already facing high food prices due to Covid-19-related supply chain disruptions.
The UN report released on Wednesday warned of “potentially worrying” implications for food security and nutrition as conflict, climate extremes, economic shocks and inequality continue to intensify. 45 million suffered from wasting, a deadly form of malnutrition that increases the risk of death up to 12 times.
Calling for agricultural policy overhaul, report says global food and agriculture sector receives nearly $630 billion a year in support that often distorts market prices, fails to reach small farmers , harms the environment and does not promote the production of nutritious food.
This support includes subsidies that primarily target high-calorie staples like grains, sugar, meat, and dairy at the expense of healthier, nutritious foods like fruits, vegetables, legumes, and seeds.
“Every year, 11 million people die from unhealthy diets. Rising food prices mean it will only get worse,” said WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.
“WHO supports countries’ efforts to improve food systems by taxing unhealthy foods, subsidizing healthy options, protecting children from harmful marketing and ensuring clear nutrition labels,” he added.