Countries not walking fast enough towards Zero Hunger destination

19Nov 2016
Deo Mfugale
The Guardian
Countries not walking fast enough towards Zero Hunger destination

THE world is left with only fourteen years in which to make sure that no human being has nothing to eat. By 2030 developing countries, in particular,

must meet the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger but the current pace to achieve that goal leaves a lot to be desired, warns the Global Hunger Index2016 Report.

The goal sets the agenda that commits the world to end poverty and hunger in all its forms for ever, by attaining food security and improving malnutrition as well as scaling up sustainable agriculture through action that can contribute to people’s health and well-being.

According to FAO, hunger refers to the stress associated with lack of food leading to deprivation or undernourishment, the lack of minimum quantity and quality of food that people require in order to live a healthy and productive life.

The Global Hunger Index (GHI) is meant to raise awareness and understanding of the struggle against hunger. It highlights efforts made by countries in the struggle, success that has been recorded and the bottlenecks encountered in the quest to achieve zero hunger.

From GHI 2000 to GHI 2016, 22 countries have reduced their scores by 50 percent or more, meaning that people in these countries are less hungry now than they were 16 years ago.

The 2016 GHI Report demonstrates that real progress has been made in reducing hunger since the UN Millennium Development Goals were announced, but that the current pace of reducing hunger will not be fast enough to reach the Sustainable Development Goal of zero hunger by 2030.

This year’s GHI has been calculated for 118 countries basing on undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality.

“Despite a 29 per cent reduction in GHI scores in the developing world since 2000, progress has been uneven as great disparities in hunger continue to exist at the regional, national and sub-national level,” reads part of the GHI Report published jointly by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), Concern Worldwide and Welthungerhilfe (WHH).

And, despite the progress made, at the global level hunger is still high, calling for action that is determined, focused and evidence-based in order to create a faster pace towards Zero Hunger than it is the case now.

The GHI report highlights that about 700 million people still face hunger. There are also one in four children who are stunted and eight per cent of the children across the world are affected by wasting.

“Whilst the world has made progress in the fight against hunger there are still 795 million people condemned to facing hunger every day of their lives,” says Dominic MacSorley, CEO of Concern Worldwide.

“This is not just unacceptable, it is immoral and shameful. Resources like the Global Hunger Index provide us with a critical insight into the scale of the global hunger crisis.

“We have the technology, knowledge and resources to achieve that vision. What is missing is both the urgency and the political will to turn commitments into action,” he adds.

The report shows that levels of hunger are serious or alarming in 50 countries. Regionally the highest GHI scores and therefore the highest hunger levels are still found in Africa South of the Sahara and South Asia.A good number of the seven countries with alarming GHI scores are in Africa South of the Sahara.

“Simply put, countries must accelerate the pace at which they are reducing hunger or we will fail to achieve the second Sustainable Development Goal,” says IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan, adding:

“Ending global hunger is certainly possible, but it’s up to all of us that we set the priorities right to ensure that governments, the private sector and civil society devote the time and resources necessary to meet this important goal.”

However, one characteristic of this year’s report is that no countries are classified in the extremely alarming category, although this level of hunger could quite possibly exist.
Seven countries still face alarming levels of hunger and a further 43 countries have serious hunger levels.

“Tanzania has seen to be improving from GHI score of 41.2 in 1992 to 28.4 this year, but still remains under the “serious” bracket,” reads part of the report, adding that Rwanda is among the countries that has achieved the biggest percentage reductions in hunger of all countries in serious and alarming categories.

Other countries are Cambodia, and Myanmar, all of which have reduced their GHI scores by over 50 percent each since 2000. And for the second year in a row, no developing countries for which data was available were in the “extremely alarming” category.

On the other hand, Burundi, the Comoros, DRC, Eritrea, Libya, Papua New Guinea, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Syrian Arab Republic have been identified as cause for significant concern. This is based on available food security and nutrition data, child undernutrition, and child mortality.

Seven countries had “alarming” levels of hunger, while 43 countries – including high-population countries like India, Nigeria, and Indonesia – had “serious” hunger levels.Countries with the highest scores in this year’s report and therefore the highest hunger levels, as well as relatively low percentage reductions in hunger are the Central African Republic, Chad and Zambia.

Challenges abound on the path to Zero Hunger. Disruption of food production systems caused by climate related disasters is one of the biggest challenges.

In order to achieve the goal of getting to Zero Hunger while leaving no one behind , it is essential to identify the region’s countries and populations that are most vulnerable to hunger and undernutrition so that progress can be accelerated.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change draws a plan of action for the next 14 years that sets a clear objective to transform the world to ensure that the most deprived overcome poverty and hunger.

This could be done by reaching out to the most vulnerable first, prioritizing human rights and empowering women and by tackling the adverse impacts of climate change.

"The 2030 Agenda set a clear global objective for an end to hunger - everywhere - within the next 14 years," says David Nabarro, Special Adviser to the UN Secretary-General on the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and Climate Change. "Too many people are hungry today. There is a need for urgent, thoughtful and innovative action to ensure that no one ever goes hungry again."

Countries affected by hunger must focus on poverty eradication and food and nutrition security within their national agricultural policies.

They should also sustainably increase the agricultural productivity of small holder farmers by securing access to land, markets, knowledge and financial services while promoting healthy, diversified and sustainable diets through agricultural environmental and social policies that influence what food is produced and consumed.

Governments should consider improving infrastructure, technology, transportation and distribution systems in order to minimize food loss and develop effective policies to reduce food waste and conserve natural resources.

There is also a need to integrate actions to deliver zero hunger into national development plans with targets and indicators for hunger, food security, nutrition and sustainable agriculture that are appropriate to national context and adequately financed.

It is also important that the ministry of finance and planning should work together to estimate national budget requirements for investment to deliver Zero Hunger and provide long-term funding strategies to ensure that investment plans can be sustainably delivered.

To achieve this, governments need to coordinate key sectors and programmes including agriculture, nutrition, health, education and water in order to realise Zero Hunger.

There is a need for governments to prioritise policy coherence for sustainable development at national and international levels so that the intended impacts of reducing poverty and malnutrition are achieved.

At the global level, international organisations and civil society must hold governments to account by holding participatory and transparent national-follow-up and review and processes. This calls for a free and enabling environment for civil society that is supported by government.

It is also important to ensure that national and international policies and programmes are designed to improve the food and nutrition security of the most excluded population groups.
Ending hunger cannot be achieved without increased effort and mobilization of resources.

More importantly, a lasting end to hunger and undernutrition cannot be achieved in isolation; underlying structural causes as well as the impacts of climate change must also be adequately addressed.

Top Stories