Around 118 million people around the world began to starve to death in 2020, the year in which the Covid-19 pandemic crippled much of the planet, disrupted families who lost their providers, shut down operations economic issues and worsened inequalities.
According to the latest report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), published on Monday (12), between 720 and 811 million people suffered from hunger in 2020, or about 118 million more than the figures recorded the previous year.
Throughout the 2010s, the annual The State of Food and Nutrition Security in the World had already recorded a stabilization in the number of undernourished people in the world, which interrupted the previous fall.
The pandemic has, however, pushed the curve back up. The latest edition of the study shows that the virus may have delayed the fight against hunger by 15 years, as the total number of undernourished people in 2020 approaches the 810 million recorded in 2005.
Proportionately, this represents almost 10% of the world’s population, but hunger does not affect the planet in the same way. Asia also has the largest number of malnourished people, 418 million, more than half of the total. But since it is the most populous continent, this represents 9% of the population. There, the prevalence of hunger was measured more in countries like North Korea and Yemen, a Middle Eastern country that has been at civil war since 2015, in what is considered by the UN to be the crisis. most serious humanitarian aid in the world.
Compared to the size of the population, the situation is more serious on the African continent, where 21% of the inhabitants recorded malnutrition in 2020, an increase from 18% the previous year.
The situation in Central African countries, such as the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Republic of the Congo, is more dramatic, besides Somalia, in East Africa, one of the places where the prevalence of hunger is the highest measured by the FAO. Northern states, such as Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco, recorded fewer people suffering from hunger, according to the report.
With these figures, the FAO says that the planet should not reach the goal of zero hunger by 2030, one of the sustainable development goals proposed by the UN. By the end of this decade, the organization estimates that 660 million people could go hungry, with 30 million of those cases directly linked to the lasting effects of the pandemic.
It is not enough to have food on the table, it is necessary to have access to healthy food, but it is too expensive for 3 billion people, or 42% of the planet’s population, according to the FAO – a percentage that climbs to 80.2% when we talk about Africa.
Children who suffer most from lack of nutrients are children. The study estimates that more than 149 million children under the age of five are shorter than what is indicated for this age group. Additionally, over 45 million may be considered too thin for their age, and 39 million are overweight.
Other age groups are also facing problems. The survey shows that around 30% of women aged 15 to 49 worldwide suffer from anemia.
In Brazil, the Datafolha survey in May had already measured the feeling of hunger. Here, one in four Brazilians said the amount of food on the table to feed the family was less than enough in recent months.
The situation was felt mostly by women, blacks and the less educated: 40% of those who had only completed primary education lacked food. Inside the country, more people reported going hungry in the northeast region.
Before Datafolha, another study had measured the impact of the pandemic on the tables of the country. A survey by the Brazilian Research Network on Sovereignty and Food Security (Penssan) showed that, during the pandemic, 9% of the population, or 19 million Brazilians, suffered from severe food insecurity.
“Covid-19 is only the tip of the iceberg. More alarming is that the pandemic has exposed the vulnerabilities formed in our food systems in recent years by conflict, climate change, economic crises. These factors are occurring more and more simultaneously, with effects that seriously worsen food and nutrition security, ”say the authors of the FAO report.