A new report released by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and four additional UN bodies paints a grim picture of the world’s hunger crisis. According to the 2023 edition of the annual State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, the number of people experiencing hunger reached an estimated 735 million in 2022. This represents an alarming increase of 122 million individuals since 2019, with the COVID-19 pandemic and the Russian invasion of Ukraine identified as key contributing factors, as reported by The Guardian.
Over the three-year period analyzed in the report, the prevalence of chronic hunger rose from 7.9% of the global population in 2019 to 9.2% in 2022. The report highlights that there was “no progress” made in addressing food insecurity at the global level during this period. While the economic recovery from the pandemic offered some respite, the report acknowledges that the countervailing impacts of the Ukraine conflict, rising food prices, and other drivers of food insecurity offset the gains made.
Notably, the report underscores the unequal distribution of hunger worldwide. In Africa, nearly 20% of the population faces hunger, compared to 8.5% in Asia, 6.5% in Latin America and the Caribbean, and 7% in Oceania. Projections indicate that by 2030, the number of chronically undernourished individuals could reach almost 600 million. This figure is approximately 119 million higher than it would have been without the pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine, highlighting the significant challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal to eradicate hunger.
In response to the report, UN Secretary-General António Guterres expressed both concern and optimism. While acknowledging that certain regions are on track to meet some of the 2030 nutrition targets, he emphasized the need for a global effort to address the root causes of food insecurity. Guterres emphasized the importance of building resilience to crises and shocks, including conflicts and climate change, in order to ensure food security for all.
Meanwhile, mounting concerns surround the potential extension of the UN-brokered deal between Russia and Ukraine that enables grain exports from Ukraine to developing nations. The Black Sea Grain Initiative, up for its fourth renewal, is crucial for nations relying on Ukrainian grain. Russia’s history of making threats before granting extensions raises uncertainties about the future of the deal, as reported by the AP.
The latest report on world hunger serves as a stark reminder of the challenges we face in achieving a hunger-free world. It calls for immediate action and global cooperation to address the root causes of food insecurity, provide support to vulnerable regions, and build resilience in the face of crises. Efforts to eradicate hunger must remain a top priority on the international agenda, requiring sustained commitment and collaboration across nations.