Global hunger increased last year, exceeding population growth and likely reaching its greatest level since 2005, as the COVID-19 pandemic reduced incomes and food access, according to the United Nations.
The UN agency stated in a report that 811 million people, over a tenth of the world’s population, were undernourished in 2020. Fulfilling a goal to end hunger by 2030 will need a “tremendous” effort, and that the agency has reiterated a plea to overhaul food systems.
The pandemic’s aftermath has pushed healthy food further out of reach for many people, and this year’s rise in food prices to their highest level in over a decade is particularly bad news for poorer countries that rely on imports.
Conflict, climate change, and economic downturns, as recognized as the main causes of food insecurity and malnutrition are becoming more frequent and intense, and they are happening more often in combination.
“While 2020 was an immense challenge for the world, it may also be a warning of unwelcome events to come if more resolute actions to change course are not taken,” the UN said in the report.
Based on the report it is estimated that between 720 million and 811 million people were undernourished last year, with a mid-range of 768 million due to uncertainty about the pandemic’s impact of which the majority were in Asia. A third of the world’s population lacked sufficient food, a figure that rose by 320 million from a year earlier and roughly equal to the previous five years combined.
The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program (WFP), UNICEF, and the World Health Organization contributed to the report, which is the first global assessment of food insecurity since the COVID-19 crisis.
Despite expanding operational demands, the worldwide contribution forecast for 2021 barely covers 55 percent of WFP’s current $15.3 billion operational needs. The World Food Program still requires $4.5 billion in the next six months to meet demands from June to November this year.