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Another 291m people won’t have enough to eat this year

Global hunger to surge by around a third in 2021.
Image: Shutterstock

Global hunger will surge by about a third this year, driven by lingering income losses from the pandemic, according to the US Department of Agriculture.

The department’s annual assessment of food security in 76 middle- and low-income nations that are past or current recipients of US food aid estimates an additional 291 million people in those countries won’t have enough to eat in 2021. That comes on top of a huge spike in hunger last year as the pandemic unleashed economic distress.

The United Nations earlier this month estimated global food insecurity in 2020 had already hit the highest level in 15 years as income loss made healthy diets out of reach for about a 10th of the global population. Things are projected to get worse in 2021 as commodity inflation and disrupted supply chains sent world food prices to the highest in almost a decade, particularly bad news for poorer countries dependent on food imports.

The large-scale human suffering that’s driven by hunger is reaching new depths of bleakness. A study published in Nature Food journal this month projected the exacerbated undernutrition among mothers and children in low-and middle-income countries will cost the world $30 billion in future productivity losses. Rising hunger for hundreds of millions of people, primarily in Asia and Africa, also raises the risk of political instability.

Overall, 1.2 billion people in the 76 countries covered in the USDA report–representing 31% of their population–will be food-insecure this year. Prior to the pandemic, the USDA estimated 761 million people, or less than 20% of that population, fell into the category in those countries.

Most of the additional people the USDA expects to fall into food insecurity this year are in Asia, which accounts for 72% of the increase. Bangladesh, India, Pakistan, and Indonesia will see particularly large jumps in the number of people without enough food, according to the report. Sub-Saharan Africa accounts for 21% of the global increase in undernourished people.

Yemen, Zimbabwe and Congo are projected to have the highest prevalence of hunger, with more than 80% of the population in each of the countries unable to get enough to eat.

The primary driver of rising food insecurity is the persistent drop in income in the countries compared with pre-pandemic levels, according to the report. The authors cautioned that the projections didn’t consider the potential impact of climate change, armed conflict or political or economic instability.

The department classifies someone food-insecure if they are unable to maintain a diet of at least 2,100 calories a day, considered a minimal level to stay active and healthy.

© 2021 Bloomberg

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Hunger is a political phenomenon in this age of abundance. Famine is nature’s way of slapping voters on their wrist for their indiscretions at the ballot box.

The specter of Soylent Green looms large !!!

A crime against humanity. This is a predictable outcome of poor decisions made by arrogant, power-hungry and ignorant politicians (or fearful and incompetent?) – and their blinkered or narrowly focussed medical ‘expert’ advisors who appear to have serious God complex issues. These people made the decisions which lead to this tragedy. Accountability lies with them – not a virus.

Public Health is defined as “the art and science of preventing disease, prolonging life and promoting health through the organized efforts of society” (Acheson, 1988; WHO). How could all these so-called experts not see that there is a bigger public health picture – that covid is just one amongst many health challenges out there? It was already obvious to so many of us back in May 2020.

Poverty is a predictable and direct consequence of draconian government decrees which have destroyed livelihoods and economies globally. “Severe poverty is one of the two leading causes of death in developing countries. Poverty results in malnutrition, poor living conditions, overcrowding, inadequate sanitation and unclean drinking water.” Source: https://www.borgenmagazine.com/leading-causes-of-death-in-developing-countries/

“An estimated 6.2 million children under the age of 15 years die every year – with the vast majority traced down to one single cause: poverty.” Source: https://www.theworldcounts.com/challenges/people-and-poverty/trade-and-poverty/effects-of-poverty/story

I’d like to believe these decisionmakers are just ignorant. They also appear to lack empathy and compassion for the vast majority of poor people in the world whose lives and livelihoods have been devastated by their decisions. The alternative explanation would be a purposeful agenda with evil undertones – and I really don’t want to believe in conspiracies.

Well said! We can vaccinate to whole world over night but we can not feed it. I don’t believe in conspiracies either, but something is not right. I don’t blame people that do however believe that something else is on the go!

Quickly tho, let’s do another lockdown in SA for a seasonal virus that affects mostly the obese, diabetic and old. To hell with the supply chains, people’s income or their ability to put food on the table. In a country where poverty and unemployment are the only real epidemics, let’s force people further into economic hardship for a generation.

End of comments.

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