An overwhelming number of people in the Asia-Pacific region suffered from hunger and malnutrition last year due to high food costs, poverty and income equality, according to a recently released report, which calls for more efforts from governments and organizations.
According to the Regional Food Security and Nutrition Snapshot for Asia and the Pacific 2021, an estimated 375.8 million people in the region faced hunger in 2020, or nearly 54 million people. more than in 2019. More than 80 percent of these people live in South Asia.
In addition, 443.8 million people in the region were severely food insecure in 2020, while an additional 667.4 million were moderately food insecure.
The COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted economic activity and livelihoods, and caused a dramatic economic downturn in Asia and the Pacific and exacerbated hunger and food insecurity, the report says, which was released. jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and UNICEF on Wednesday. .
Last year, more than 1.1 billion people lacked access to adequate food, an increase of nearly 150 million people in just one year, and nearly 23 percent of the region’s children are still suffering stunted growth.
“Progress in reducing undernourishment in Asia and the Pacific has slowed in recent years, and the number of undernourished people has increased significantly (17%) between 2019 and 2020,” the report said. He also said that while it was not yet possible to fully quantify the damage COVID-19 has caused to food security and nutrition, the pandemic has “had a serious impact on the region.”
Fan Shenggen, a professor at the Agricultural University of China, said the pandemic has indeed exacerbated food insecurity and malnutrition around the world, and is also a wake-up call for transformation and innovation in the world. agriculture and food system.
The report also states that the focus should be on meeting the needs of small family farmers and local people in the region.
“Food systems must also prioritize the food needs of vulnerable groups, including young children and women,” he said.
“The situation could have been worse without the response of governments and the impressive social protection measures they put in place during the crisis. By rebuilding better food environments, future agrifood systems will need to deliver better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life. “