Welthungerhilfe, Concern Worldwide and KfW present the Global Hunger Index: Alarming development.
Climate change, COVID-19 and the growing number of conflicts are leading to an alarming number of hungry people around the world. Food prices have risen sharply, in particular due to the war in Ukraine. The importance of local food systems in the fight against hunger was at the center of the online conference during which KfW, in collaboration with Welthungerhilfe and Concern Worldwide, presented the new edition of the World Hunger Index (WHI) report on 13 october.
“In Kenya, mothers bake stones to give their children hope that they will prepare food,” said keynote speaker Elizabeth Kimani-Murage of the African Population and Health Research Center (APHRC) in Nairobi, introducing the WHI 2022 presentation. The Corona Pandemic has caused hardship for many families, not just in Kenya. Mathias Mogge, General Secretary of Welthungerhilfe (WHH), welcomed the more than 600 guests who had logged on online to hear the results of the already 17th World Hunger Index. The report shows that hunger and malnutrition are particularly prevalent in South Asia and sub-Saharan Africa. While in South Asia many people suffer from absolute hunger and the nutritional situation of children is particularly critical, in sub-Saharan Africa the proportion of people suffering from hunger and the infant mortality rate are very high. .
The situation is bad and getting worse: 828 million people did not have enough to eat in 2021, according to WHI data. The progress made so far in the fight against hunger is being lost, as the proportion of people suffering from hunger is just under 10%, the same level as in 2009. Yet, the figures are already exceeded at the time of the presentation of the report, because the war in Ukraine will cause food prices to rise again in 2022.
More just food systems
“Crisis is turning into disaster,” warned Connell Foley. Concern Worldwide’s Director of Strategy, Advocacy and Learning summarized the findings of the year’s report. In five countries, the Central African Republic (CAR), Chad, DR Congo, Madagascar and Yemen, the situation is “very serious” and in four other countries, Burundi, Somalia, South Sudan and Syria, the situation is also described as “very serious”. serious”, although the available data are insufficient. The outlook is worrying: if the trend does not change, the global community will not achieve its goal of zero hunger by 2030 (Sustainable Development Goal 2). 46 countries will not even reach low levels of hunger by then.
“We need to do something now to cushion the problems,” warned Barbara Schnell, head of sector policy at KfW. “However, a long-term perspective is needed to make the whole food system fairer and more sustainable and to realize the right to food for all.” As a short-term response, KfW supports partner countries in particular, where the effects of the war in Ukraine are particularly severe, with around 120 million euros through the special initiative A world without hunger. Cash transfers (cash payments) are an important means here to enable access to food despite rising food prices.
Vegetable gardens for food supply
In her keynote address, Elizabeth Kimani-Murage, after the harrowing account of the plight of mothers in Kenya, revealed that her country’s local food systems had been disrupted during the pandemic. The delivery of food from the countryside to the cities has been disrupted. This situation is aggravated by the worst drought in 40 years, which has lasted for three years in Kenya. The senior researcher at APHRC pointed out that her government has now enshrined the right to food in the Kenyan constitution and is providing aid. But that is not enough: “Citizens must also realize that they have the right to food and demand it. Given the difficult situation, more investment is needed, demanded Kimani-Murage. But she also reported on initiatives that bring hope. Planting a vegetable garden, for example, could decide whether mothers should bake stones or put vegetables on the table. Young people from poor urban neighborhoods are now involved in local food production, she said. “Changes at the local level are the most important,” said the Kenyan scientist.
Commitment at the local level
“People understood that something had to be done about hunger,” noted Danielle Resnick during the following discussion moderated by Deutsche Welle journalist Christine Mhundwa. The political scientist from the Brookings Institution and the International Food Policy Research Institute, a think tank in Washington, reminded the audience that the global food situation will be a topic at both the G20 summit and the next global conference. on the climate COP 27 in Egypt. But international efforts cannot replace initiatives at the local level to achieve progress on the ground.
In Pakistan, floods have set back food security efforts. Aisha Jamshed, director of Welthungerhilfe in Pakistan, said farmers could not return to their fields even after three months because the floodwaters had not yet receded. This means that this year’s harvest and that of next year will be lost. But in villages where community councils had been established in cooperation with WHH, flood losses were lower because people were informed and better prepared.
Nutrition is not a privilege
Rawda Seman, Concern Worldwide’s program director in Ethiopia, said her organization had to cut long-term projects in favor of short-term aid. To make this possible, she said, humanitarian funding must also be more flexible. She also discussed approaches to ensuring food security in communities by distributing drought-tolerant local vegetable seeds and teaching people to grow their own seeds.
Tendai Saidi of the Civil Society Agriculture Network (CISANET) in Malawi highlighted the sharp rise in fuel, fertilizer and transport prices. In parts of his country, the price of staple foods like maize has tripled. Although Malawi allocates 10% of the household budget to food security, this is not enough. She described the cash transfer project for particularly poor people, which is also funded by KfW, as a success, but it needs to be complemented by education. The trend of buying more and more processed foods instead of eating vegetables and fruits is worrying, she said. “Food is not a privilege,” Saidi concluded, “citizens must hold their governments accountable to demand the right to food.”
KfW Development Bank
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