Wednesday, 14 April, 2021

Towards Zero Hunger

There is no denying the fact that eradication of hunger and malnutrition is one of the key challenges facing many countries across the world. A large number of people are still struggling hard daily to feed their children a nutritious meal. An estimated 690 million people are deprived of food globally. As per an estimate, acute food insecurity hit some 135 million people in 55 nations in 2019. The problem of malnutrition is quite serious. One among three persons is believed to suffer from one or the other form of malnutrition globally. Malnutrition leads to various health problems. The COVID-19 pandemic, poverty, inequality, conflict, climate change, among others, have been an obstacle to the reduction of hunger and malnutrition.

Realising the numerous severe consequences of hunger and undernourishment, the United Nations in 2015 adopted the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) with a view to improving the lives of people by 2030. Zero hunger is one of the SDGs. To achieve this challenging goal, it is necessary for countries to manage food security, improve nutrition and promote sustainable agriculture. However, the world has made remarkable progress in lessening hunger. Now there are some 300 million fewer hungry people in the world as compared to the figure of 1990-92. During this period, the world's population has risen by 1.9 billion.

Despite being an undeveloped country, Nepal is now on track to reduce hunger. But, as per the Global Hunger Index (GHI) report 2020, the country, along with the rest of the developing nations, is likely to miss the goal of zero hunger by 2030. The GHI report titled 'One decade to zero hunger: Linking health and sustainable health systems', which was released in Lalitpur the other day, ranked Nepal 73rd among 132 countries. The nation has scored 19.5 in the index. This signals that hunger in the country is moderate in the 'severity scale'. The country’s magnitude of this problem has gone down constantly since 2000 when the hunger index stood at 37.4. The nation was able to bring down hunger to 22.8 in 2012. Undernourishment, child wasting, child stunting and child mortality were the four indicators on which basis the country's hunger index was measured.

According to the report, in 2000, Nepal's undernourished population was 24 per cent, which significantly came down to 7 per cent in 2020. The level of child stunting also improved from 58 per cent to 37 per cent and child mortality to 5 per cent from 8 per cent. However, child wasting dropped to only 9 per cent from 11 per cent. It shows that the policymakers must focus on this area to realise zero hunger. Meanwhile, experts have asked the government to come up with programmes to boost productivity of land and livestock to deal with hunger.

The report shows that in South Asia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Pakistan, India and Afghanistan are at 64th, 75th, 88th, 94th and 99th positions, respectively. It portrays a bleak picture of Sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia, with 27.8 and 26, respectively. The report, however, suggests that the world is not on a right path to achieve zero hunger within the stipulated timeframe. If the existing pace of fighting hunger continues, more than three dozen nations will fail even to reach low hunger by 2030. So, there is an urgent need for all the nations to make collaborative efforts to reduce hunger.