Global hunger rises, affects 11%, says UN

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Ozioma Ubabukoh

The Global Hunger Index, which showed improvement for the fifth consecutive year in 2016, has fallen, with the United Nations agencies saying the levels have dropped for the first time in more than a decade.

The development, it was gathered, “now affects about 11 per cent of the world’s population, as conflict, climate change and economic woes bite.”

“Famine struck parts of South Sudan earlier this year, and there is a high risk that it could return there – and develop in other countries affected by conflict such as the North-East in Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen,” the United Nations agencies said.

An Assistant Director, Dietetics, Obafemi Awolowo University Teaching Hospital, Dr. Obinna Ogbonna, said, currently, Nigerians were faced with pronounced hidden hunger, a type of hunger that had to do with lack adequate micronutrients that could assist the body with proper nutritional status.

Despite Nigeria being out of recession, he said unless something urgent was done, many children might suffer malnutrition of grave consequences.

“We have been talking about micronutrients like vitamin A, Iodine and Iron deficiency; now that we don’t have the foods available again, it is a very difficult situation. You know that availability, affordability and accessibility to these foods are important.

“We have what we call household food security; unfortunately, most houses are not food secured these days. Because of that, there is a lot of malnutrition going on these days,” Ogbonna said.

Last year, 815 million people were hungry – 38 million more than in 2015 – the five agencies said. This, the report said, was the first global assessment since governments set an international target to eliminate hunger and malnutrition by 2030, as one of a set of so-called Sustainable Development Goals.

According to Reuters, the number of hungry people began to rise in 2014, but this is the first time in more than a decade that the proportion of the global population going hungry has risen. About 489 million of the hungry are living in countries affected by conflicts.

“Over the past decade, conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature,” the heads of five UN agencies said in the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 report.

“This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore: we will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition,” they said.

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