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Malnutrition persisted in all its forms, with children paying a high price in 2020
While the pandemic’s impact has yet to be fully mapped, a multi-agency report estimates that around a tenth of the global population – up to 811 million people – were undernourished last year. The number suggests it will take a tremendous effort for the world to honour its pledge to end hunger by 2030.
This year’s edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World is the first global assessment of its kind in the pandemic era. The report is jointly published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the UN World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).
According to the report, 2021 offers a unique opportunity for advancing food security and nutrition through transforming food systems with the upcoming UN Food Systems Summit, the Nutrition for Growth Summit and the COP26 on climate change.
Depending on the particular driver (or combination of drivers) confronting each country, the report urges policymakers to integrate humanitarian, development and peacebuilding policies in conflict areas – for example, through social protection measures to prevent families from selling meagre assets in exchange for food.
The report also talks about intervening along supply chains to lower the cost of nutritious foods – for example, by encouraging the planting of biofortified crops or making it easier for fruit and vegetable growers to access markets.
Above all, the authors urge, the world must act now – or watch the drivers of hunger and malnutrition recur with growing intensity in coming years, long after the shock of the pandemic has passed.