UN: Global hunger on the rise again
After a steady decline for over a decade, global hunger has recently risen again, affecting 815 million people or 11 percent of the world’s population.
Based on United Nations’ (UN) latest report titled “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017,” the increase of 38 million people from a year ago is largely due to the proliferation of civil conflicts, often exacerbated by climate-related catastrophes.
This would put the goal of a world without hunger and malnutrition by 2030 to challenging heights, said the UN.
In 2016 alone, more than 63 million people in 13 countries were said to face “severe levels of food insecurity and in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.”
“The weighted average prevalence of undernourishment in the 46 countries affected by conflict for the last decade is on average between 1.4 and 4.4 percentage points higher than for all other countries,” the report read.
This includes the Philippines, where government troops and ISIS-linked Maute Group fought for five months in what is now war-torn Marawi City in Lanao del Sur.
Countries like the Philippines where the economy and the people’s livelihood rely significantly on agriculture may be heavily impacted by conflict more than nations with low agriculture workforce, as “the effects can be felt across the food value chain, including production, harvesting, processing, transportation, financing and marketing.”
According to the report, rural communities were hit the hardest, where crops and other basic sources of food were grown and harvested.
Prevalence of undernourishment in the Philippines for the past three years is at 13.8 percent, putting the country in the fifth highest spot out of all Southeast Asian nations, with the likes of Timor Leste (26.9), Lao (17.1), Myanmar (16.9), and Cambodia (15.3).
Similarly, the Philippines ranked third in all Southeast Asian nations in terms of obesity, where the country more than doubled its figure from a decade ago to 3.1 percent from 1.5 percent. Southeast Asian countries with higher obesity rate include Indonesia (9.8) and Thailand (5.0).
The Philippines was included in the 14 countries affected by conflict that achieved the UN’s MDG 1c target. This status is given to nations that were able to cut in half the proportion of people who suffered from hunger between 1990 and 2015.
The Philippines “experienced very localized low-intensity conflict” according to the report.
Still, most low- and middle- income countries that experienced conflict will face significant challenges in the future before they are able to end hunger, achieve security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.
“On the whole, countries affected by conflict—and to a larger extent those who protracted crisis and fragile situations—made the least progress in reducing hunger among their populations, as compared with countries not affected by conflict.”
Among UN’s recommendations to improve food security is the creation of agriculture policies that would improve the resilience of the sector, given that it is the main livelihood in many countries affected by conflict.
Improvement in food security and sustainable peace also require “a change in mindset to a more deliberate, preventive approach, and to longer-term sustainable interventions from short-term and output-based.”