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Zero hunger is one of the Sustainable Development Goals of the United Nations. It is a part of Agenda 2030. Zero hunger aims to eliminate world hunger by 2030. With this goal, member-states of the United Nations have committed to transforming the world by achieving a global hunger end by 2030. They believe that having resilient and sustainable agriculture and food systems will meet the needs of people and the planet. The goal encourages governments to ensure that every man, woman, and child enjoys their Right to Adequate Food. Achieving this goal requires a renewed focus on the response to food crises. The UN says that with the right blend of political leadership and policies, we can end world hunger and bring a stop to malnourishment.
The Zero Hunger Challenge has five elements at its core. The five elements reflect the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. When implemented together, these five elements can eliminate world hunger and malnutrition and build food systems that are inclusive and sustainable. The five key elements are:
1. Sustainable food systems from production to consumption
2. Ending rural poverty: doubling small-scale producer incomes & productivity
3. Adapting food systems that eliminate loss or waste of food
4. Access to adequate food and healthy diets for all people, all year round
5. Ending malnutrition in all its forms
The Zero Hunger Challenge encourages all countries and nations to work together towards accomplishing the global hunger end by 2030. The Challenge ensures that food security and sustainable agriculture remain a priority of global development agendas.
The Zero Hunger Challenge promotes an integrated approach as a response to the multiple causes of hunger and malnutrition. The approach reflects the challenges people face as they seek food systems that deliver a high level of nutrition and build resilient and sustainable rural communities. The Zero Hunger goal recognizes and appreciates the role of biodiversity and ecosystems in promoting safe food systems and vice versa.
Sadly, the world is not on track to achieving global hunger end by 2030. According to recent trends, people affected by hunger will exceed 840 million by 2030. The World Food Programme says that 135 million people suffer from hunger. The main reasons for people being forced to stay hungry are economic collapses, climate change, and man-made conflicts such as wars. The COVID-19 pandemic caused that number to double. Now, an additional 130 million people are at risk of hunger.
The previous few decades saw a decline in the number of people suffering from hunger. However, the numbers began to increase in 2015 slowly. It increased by 10 million in one year and went up by 60 million in five years. Current statistics show that 8.9% of the world’s population is hungry.
Of the 2 billion people affected by hunger, 1.03 billion are from Asia, 675 million are from Africa, and 205 million belong to Latin America. The world recorded alarming hunger levels in the countries of Somalia, Syria, Yemen, Chad, South Sudan, and Madagascar.
Governments need to take swift action with a little more than a quarter of a billion people at risk of starvation. They need to develop measures to provide food and humanitarian relief to the most at-risk areas.
Simultaneously, we need a profound change in the global food and agricultural systems. The improvements will ensure we nourish and provide for the 690 million people starving today –and the additional 2 billion the world will have by 2050. Promoting sustainable food practices and agricultural productivity is essential to help alleviate people out of hunger.
Conflict is the primary driver of hunger. Conflict is responsible for 8 out of 10 of the world’s worst hunger crises. For example, the war-torn countries of Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and the Democratic Republic of the Congo have the most number of people living in hunger. According to the World Food Programme, 60% of the world’s hungry people live in areas ravaged by conflict or war.
Extreme weather events such as floods and droughts that accompany a changing climate affect the lives and livelihoods of thousands of people. These events aggravate poverty and hunger and create social tensions. Taking extreme steps today to combat climate change will help us attain the global hunger end by 2030.
Occurrences of earthquakes, cyclones, hurricanes, etc., leave thousands of people homeless and without food and shelter. To cope with the impacts of the disaster, people cut back on meals since they don’t have access to adequate food. This results in a malnourished community.
The pandemic put millions of people out of work. It disrupted food production and supply chains, forcing people into food insecurity. The pandemic also significantly reduced the income of farmers and others whose livelihoods are dependent on agriculture. The poorest and most vulnerable populations continue to feel the devastating effects of the pandemic on global hunger and poverty.
We know that climate change is today a leading cause of global hunger. The world is now witnessing extreme, prolonged events of floods and droughts. Adopting sustainable and climate-smart agriculture allows farmers to become more resilient to unpredictable climate patterns. Climate-smart agricultural practices include diversifying crop varieties and agricultural conservation practices. These practices help farmers benefit both nutritionally and financially. Also, healthy, resilient crops mean a healthy, satisfied population.
In many countries, women account for almost half of the agricultural workforce. Providing female and male farmers with equal access to agricultural resources increases farming production by 20-30%. Gender equality in agriculture could reduce the number of people affected by hunger by 150 million.
How often have you served too much food and thrown most of it in the garbage bin? When you waste food, you also waste natural resources. These resources could have been used to produce food for people living in hunger. Ending food waste is a highly viable solution to achieving global hunger end by 2030. But it is a solution you and I must be part of. It starts with one simple step, reducing or eliminating the amount of food you waste.
Sometimes, it happens that people have enough to eat. But their poor hygiene practices or inadequate access to sanitation makes them susceptible to illnesses. These illnesses do not let their bodies absorb the nutrients from food. Providing clean drinking and washing water to every individual can save lives.
Also Read: SDGs: Making Sustainability Viable