World-wide, up to 811 million people are suffering chronic hunger, while 155 million people are experiencing an acute food crisis – almost 20 million more than last year. The global community is moving further and further away from the goal of eliminating hunger by 2030. In fact, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization estimates that by that year, around 657 million people will be undernourished, which represents about 8 per cent of the world population. “Unfortunately, our worst fears last year have been confirmed. Famines are back, and multiple crises are causing the number of those going hungry to rise further and further,” said Welthungerhilfe Secretary General Mathias Mogge, presenting the Global Hunger Index in Berlin/Germany in mid-October.
The corona pandemic has further aggravated the already tense food situation in many countries of the Global South. However, the biggest drivers of hunger continue to be climate change – as the example of the devastating drought in Southeast Madagascar is impressively demonstrating right now – and violent conflicts. More than half of all undernourished people live in countries marked by violence, conflict and fragility; 60 per cent of the people in these countries depend on agriculture.
But where there is war, the food systems are impaired at all levels. Fields and harvests are destroyed, roads are blocked, areas are mined, and markets no longer work. For fear of fighting and being attacked, people abandon their villages; often, their survival then depends on humanitarian aid. Yemen, Syria und Afghanistan are striking examples of this development. For example, according to the UNHCR, Afghanistan had nearly 3 million internally displaced people in late 2020, and since the beginning of this year, armed conflicts have turned more than 650,000 people into refugees in their own country.
It is also a known fact that food insecurity can contribute to violent conflict. Therefore, Welthungerhilfe calls for flexible, cross-sector financing models in international cooperation which focus more on the mutual effects of food security and peace. The right to food above all has to be asserted in the context of conflicts, too, the organisation demands. “Sanctions have to at last be consistently imposed on using hunger as a war weapon,” says Welthungerhilfe President Marlehn Thieme. In addition, a radical transformation of the existing food systems is needed to make them more resilient, Thieme maintains. For this purpose, the resolutions of the UN Food Systems Summit require a consistent follow-up. Thieme states that the Climate Summit (COP 26) in Glasgow/ Scotland in early November and the Nutrition for Growth (N4G) Conference in Tokyo/ Japan in early Decembre offer a good opportunity for this.
The Global Hunger Index (GHI) 2021 at a glance:
The Global Hunger Index 2021 is available in English, French, German, Italian, Portuguese, Spanish and Chinese.
Further reading: Global Hunger Index Website