Almost 690 million people around the world went hungry in 2019. As progress in fighting hunger stalls, the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems. While it is too early to assess the full impact of the lockdowns and other containment measures, at least another 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, may go hungry in 2020. The setback throws into further doubt the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal for zero hunger.
Overcoming hunger and malnutrition in all its forms, including undernutrition, micronutrient deficiencies and overweight, is about more than securing enough food to survive: what people – and particularly children – eat must also be nutritious.
This year, the report presents evidence that a healthy diet costs far more than US$ 1.90/day, the international poverty threshold. A staggering 3 billion people or more cannot afford a healthy diet. In sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, this is the case for 57 percent of the population – though no region, including North America and Europe, is spared. Partly as a result, the race to end malnutrition appears compromised.
The report indicates that the burden of malnutrition in all its forms remains a challenge and that while the world has been making some progress against some of the 2030 SDG nutrition targets — it has been uneven and insufficient to meet the goals. As of the end of 2019, exclusive breastfeeding only was on track for the 2025 target; stunting showed some progress although insufficient to achieve either the 2025 or 2030 targets, the prevalence of wasting was notably higher than the targets and achievement of the 2030 child overweight target would require a reversal of the current trajectory. The onset of COVID-19 in 2020 throws into further doubt the achievement of these goals especially as the nutritional status of the most vulnerable population groups is likely to deteriorate further due to the health and socio-economic impacts of the pandemic.