We have received some well-researched and informative write-ups from our volunteers as part of their virtual volunteering work. Some of these are now being reproduced as Guest Blogs. This first Guest Blog, which is likely to be a series under Hunger Education Category, covers some basic facts and stats about hunger
There are 3 basic needs of a human being as we have heard the slogan growing up “ Roti, Kapda aur Makaan” i.e. Food, Clothing and Shelter. When it comes to food, we all want our families to have enough food which is safe and nutritious to eat. It is key for a better future. Any lack or depravity of food ( Hunger and malnutrition) may lead to our failure to achieve other Sustainable Development Goals such as education, health and gender equality. Lack of food makes people more prone to disease which further affects their capacity to productive earn more and improve their livelihoods.
Over the last 20 years, the United Nations has been working tenaciously to end poverty and hunger, to ensure that people can fulfill their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment.
In 2000, the United Nation’s Millennium Declaration of 2000 among 8 goals, set a major goal to Eradicate extreme poverty and hunger. By 2015, it aimed to reduce the proportion of the world’s people whose income is less than one dollar a day and the proportion of people who suffer from hunger by 50%. However, after 12 years, a review of the goal in 2012 indicated that progress was far from the target . The number of people going hungry remained disturbingly high— 1 in 8 worldwide and globally an estimated 1 in 6 children under 5 Years, underweight.
Thus, in 2015, UN adopted a new resolution, Transforming our world: the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development which outlined 17 Goals and targets. Goal 2 of the SDG is – End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture . The target set under this Goal is to end hunger by 2030 and ensure access by all people, in particular the poor and people in vulnerable situations, including infants, to safe, nutritious and sufficient food all year round and end all forms of malnutrition.
However, as we see from various reports, the world is not on track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030.
According to the UN World Food Program, 135 million people suffer from acute hunger largely due to man-made conflicts, climate change and economic downturns. The COVID-19 pandemic could now double this number to 260 Million people at risk of suffering acute hunger by the end of 2020.
Current estimates are that nearly 690 million people are hungry, or 8.9 percent of the world population. The majority of the world’s undernourished –381 million – are still found in Asia with 144 million children under age 5 affected by stunting in 2019, and nearly three quarters living in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. If recent trends continue, the number of people affected by hunger would surpass 840 million by 2030, or 9.8 percent of the global population. By 2050, this number will reach to a staggering 2 billion people.
Thus, a profound change of the global food and agriculture system is needed if we are to nourish the more than 690 million people who are hungry today. It calls for a swift action to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk regions.
In India, Level of Hunger is Serious
With a total population of 1.3 Billion, India accounts for 1/4th of world’s under-nourished people and 21% ( 273 Million) of people living on less that 1.9 USD a day. It is ironical that while Indian economy has grown significantly with per capita income tripling in the last 20 years, yet the minimum dietary intake has fallen.
As per 2020 Global Hunger Index (GHI), India ranked 94th out of the 107 countries, with a score of 27.2 ( on a scale of 100) , which reflects that level of hunger is serious. Over the last 20 years, between 2000 to 2020, while India’s score has improved slightly, it remains at alarming level.
While lot of efforts by the government and civil society organizations have been put in place, India is still falling behind. It is a fact that majority of India’s population are not facing the same level of abject poverty or starvation that was witnessed say few decades ago, but with huge number of India’s children reporting stunted, wasted, underweight and obese (yes, India is seeing an increase in obesity/overweight population) – India is losing its human potential and it’s going to impact generations.
It is high time that we take this seriously, learn from our experiences and start thinking differently for a successful Journey towards Zero Hunger.
This is the first of the series of blogs on the subject of hunger and in coming weeks/months, we will delve deep into various aspects of hunger, food wastage, nutrition and how we can join hands together for a hunger-free India.