UN: COVID-19 Pandemic Has Forced Millions More People into Hunger

Global hunger has increased dramatically in 2020 largely due to the COVID-19 pandemic as 2.4 billion people lack access to adequate food, five United Nations (UN) agencies warned on July 12.

The annual report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition by five UN agencies revealed that around a tenth of the global population — up to 811 million people — were undernourished last year.

“Unfortunately, the pandemic continues to expose weaknesses in our food systems, which threaten the lives and livelihoods of people around the world,” the heads of the agencies wrote in the report, which is the first assessment of its kind amid a pandemic.

“In one year alone, the number of people in the grip of chronic hunger has risen more than in the previous five years combined,” World Food Program (WFP) Chief Economist Arif Husain warned in a statement.

According to the report, more than half of the all undernourished people live in Asia, which amounts to 418 million people. Meanwhile, more than third — 282 million — live in Africa and a smaller proportion — 60 million — live in Latin America and the Caribbean.

The report also noted that Africa faced the sharpest rise in hunger as the estimated prevalence of undernourishment — at 21% of the population — is more than double than that of any other region.

Economic crises, conflict, the climate crisis and inequality also contributed in the rise of global hunger levels, the report found.

The five UN agencies — WFP, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Fund for Agricultural Development, World Health Organization, and the United Nations Children’s Fund — called for boosting food value chains in poor communities, strengthening food environments, and scaling up climate resilience across food systems, among other proposals, to address world hunger.

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