Since 2014, there has been a global rise in the number of people suffering from hunger. This is according to the revision of the annual undernourishment estimate series for China, dating back to 2000. The accuracy in estimation of this significant downward shift of the number of people facing hunger in the world has been made possible by updates for many countries.
Goal 2 of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) seeks to end hunger, achieve food security, and end malnutrition by 2030. But is this going to be possible? Let’s have a look at recent trends in global undernourishment, to find out.
Currently, 690 million people in the world, which equates to 8.9% of the global population, are facing hunger. These statistics depict a 10-million people rise yearly, and in five years, nearly 60 million people. The continents that have been hit the hardest by hunger are Asia and Africa, with Asia having the majority of the undernourished population globally. Asia records 381 million of the world’s undernourished population, while Africa records more than 250 million people, with its numbers growing the fastest in the world.
Another measure with an upward trend and one that approximates the extent of hunger is the number of people facing severe food insecurity. Nearly 750 million people or one in every ten people constituting the global population in 2019 were recorded as having been under the exposure of severe food insecurity levels. Putting into consideration those who faced moderate and severe food insecurity levels in the same year, approximately 2 billion people globally had no regular access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food. At the world level, the prevalence of moderate and severe levels and the severe levels of food insecurity has been seen to be higher for women than for men. From 2018 to 2019, the gender gap in food access increased.
With the COVID-19 pandemic still on the rise, its potential impacts are expected to worsen the overall food security and nutrition prospects, as it is not only slowing down the progress of the SDGs but also reversing it. Countries that were not initially affected by food insecurity may start facing the same since the pandemic is one of the major factors driving the crisis. The number of undernourished people in the world grew by 161 million from 2019 to 2020, which was even higher than the predicted 83 to 132 million people. This crisis was largely driven by the COVID-19 pandemic, conflict, and climate change. What about this year? The expected recovery should bring down the number of undernourished people, though it will still be above what was expected in a non-pandemic scenario.
Back to our SDG 2, is it going to be achievable by 2030? Judging by the recent trends we’ve just looked at, the world is definitely not on track to achieve Zero Hunger by the year 2030. If this upward trend continues, the number of people affected by hunger will exceed 840 million
by 2030, which would make 9.8 percent of the global population. Even with the COVID-19 pandemic and its potential effects out of the picture, this scenario is quite alarming.
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