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Islamabad

September 17, 2017

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Global hunger on the rise

Global hunger on the rise

Islamabad

After steadily declining for over a decade, global hunger is on the rise again, affecting 815 million people in 2016, or 11 per cent of the global population, says a new edition of the annual United Nations report on world food security and nutrition. At the same time, multiple forms of malnutrition are threatening the health of millions worldwide.

According to ‘The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017,’ the increase—38 million more people than the previous year -- is largely due to the proliferation of violent conflicts and climate-related shocks. Titled ‘How Close Are We to #ZeroHunger?’ the report specifies that the estimated number of undernourished people has increased from 777 million in 2015 to 815 million in 2016.

In addition to an increase in the proportion of the world’s population that suffers from chronic hunger (prevalence of undernourishment), the number of undernourished people on the planet has also increased to 815 million, up from 777 million in 2015.

“Over the past ten years, the number of violent conflicts around the world has increased significantly, particularly in countries already facing food insecurity, hitting rural communities the hardest and having a negative impact on food production and availability. The situation has also deteriorated in some peaceful settings, particularly those affected by economic slowdowns,” the report points out.

According to the report, the worrisome trend in undernourishment is not yet reflected in nutritional outcomes. Evidence on various forms of malnutrition points to continuous decreases in the prevalence of stunting among children, as reflected in global and regional averages. Nevertheless, stunting still affects almost one in four children under the age of five years (155 million children), increasing their risk of impaired cognitive ability, weakened performance at school, and dying from infections. This means that the rate of decline has not kept pace with population increases, resulting in a high number of stunted children overall.  At the same time, various forms of malnutrition are still cause for concern worldwide. “Overweight among children under five is becoming more of a problem in most regions, while adult obesity continues to rise in all regions. Multiple forms of malnutrition therefore coexist, with countries experiencing simultaneously high rates of child under nutrition and adult obesity,” the report states.

According to the report, wasting affected 7.7 percent children under five years of age worldwide in 2016. About 17 million children suffered from severe wasting. Worldwide, an estimated 41 million children under five were overweight in 2016, up from 5 percent in 2005. Furthermore, adult obesity continues to rise everywhere, representing a major risk factor for non-communicable diseases.

The report states that of the 815 million chronically food-insecure and malnourished people in the world, the vast majority—489 million—live in countries affected by conflict. The proportion is even more pronounced for undernourished children. Almost 122 million, or 75 percent of stunted children under age five live in countries affected by conflict.

Although the frequency of wars had been decreasing in recent decades to reach an all-time low in 2005, there has recently been a surge in the number of violent conflicts and conflict-related deaths. Violent conflicts have increased dramatically since 2010 and are currently at an all-time high, a worrying sign that current trends are likely to continue over the coming years.

“Conflict is a main driver of population displacement, and displaced populations are among the most vulnerable in the world, experiencing high levels of food insecurity and under nutrition. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) has increased significantly with the greater number of conflicts, doubling from 2007 to 2016 to total about 64 million people. One in every 113 people is now either refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum. Conflict and violence are causing and protracting food insecurity in host communities as well,” the report informs.

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