World hunger spiked in pandemic year

A United Nations (UN) report revealed a "dramatic worsening" of world hunger in 2020. The study said much of the spike is likely related to the fall-out of the COVID-19 pandemic. The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World is the first global assessment of its kind in the pandemic era, said the UN. The report is by the Food and Agriculture Organisation 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).
While the pandemic's impact has yet to be fully mapped, the 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.

Solutions to ease world hunger

The report calls for an "enabling environment of governance mechanisms and institutions" to make transformation possible. It urges policymakers to consult widely, empower women and youth, and expand the availability of data and new technologies. It further outlines six "transformation pathways" to counteract the hunger and malnutrition drivers. These pathways are:

· Integrate humanitarian, development and peacebuilding policies in conflict areas: This can be applied, for example, through social protection measures to prevent families from selling meagre assets in exchange for food.
· Scale-up climate resilience across food systems: One initiative could be offering smallholder farmers access to climate risk insurance and forecast-based financing.
· Strengthen the resilience of the most vulnerable to economic adversity: For example, through in-kind or cash support programmes to lessen the impact of pandemic-style shocks or food price volatility.
· Intervene along supply chains to lower the cost of nutritious foods: One way is by encouraging planting biofortified crops or making it easier for fruit and vegetable growers to access markets.
· Tackle poverty and structural inequalities: One example is by boosting food value chains in impoverished communities through technology transfers and certification programmes.
· Strengthen food environments and change consumer behaviour: One way is by eliminating industrial trans fats and reducing the salt and sugar content in the food supply. (Image from Unsplash)

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