By Sharon Atieno

Though the second United Nations Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) call for Zero Hunger by 2030, majority of countries are still lagging behind in achieving this target.

Of 116 countries ranked in the 2021 Global Hunger Index (GHI) report, 47 will not achieve low levels of hunger by 2030.

Of these countries, 28 are located in Africa South of the Sahara, with the remaining countries spread between Asia, North Africa, Latin America and the Carribean.

Somalia is the most affected country globally, as it suffers from an extremely alarming level of hunger. It is followed by Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Madagascar and Yemen which have alarming rates of hunger, according to the report.

Additionally, more than 30 countries have serious levels of hunger while 31 have moderate levels.

The report dubbed The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2021 further reveals that since 2012, hunger has increased in 10 countries with moderate, serious or alarming hunger levels with some cases showing stagnation of progress and worsening situation in some.

These countries include CAR, Republic of Congo,  Ecuador, Lesotho, Madagascar, South Africa, Oman, Malaysia, Venezuela and Yemen.

In 14 countries, there has been tremendous improvement with a 25% reduction or more between their 2012 and 2021 GHI scores.

The GHI scores are based on three dimensions of hunger- undernourishment, child undernutrition, and child mortality.

Similarly, the world is not on track to meet the SDGs on child nutrition. The report finds that only 25% of countries are on track to meet the goal of halving the number of children affected by stunting by 2030, and just 28% are on track to meet the  target of reducing childhood wasting to less than 3% and maintaining at this level.

The latest projections as per the UN on child mortality show that 53 countries need to accelerate progress if they are to achieve the SDG target of reducing under-five mortality rates to 2.5% or less by 2030.

The GHI report reveals that conflict is a primary driver of hunger, with more than half of the people facing undernourishment living in countries affected by conflict, violence or fragility.

Climate change is another driver through changing rainfall patterns, higher temperatures and more frequent extreme weather events.

A recent analysis shows that climate change could increase the number of chronically hungry people in 2050 by 78 million relative to a situation without current climate crisis.

The GHI report shows that climate change mitigation and adaptation require strong will and compliance with climate agreements to offset this hunger increase.

Additionally, the COVID-19 pandemic has worsened the food security situation, with its impacts still not fully known.

Restrictions implemented to save lives resulted in deep economic shocks. This resulted in an increase in the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity by nearly 20 million in 2020 compared with the previous year, the report notes.

One of the recommendations the report is enhancing resilience of food systems to simultaneously address the impacts of conflict and climate change and ensure food and nutrition security.

Also, the report calls for base actions on a thorough understanding of the context, and strengthening inclusive, locally led initiatives.

Others include commitment to flexible, need-based cross-sectional, and multiyear planning and financing; addressing conflict on a political level, strengthening international law, and ensuring accountability for rights violations as well as leading the way to fundamentally change our food systems.

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