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Global hunger rising driven by conflicts and climate change

17 September 2017, 01:13 | Rodolfo Wallace

Global hunger rising driven by conflicts and climate change

Global hunger rising driven by conflicts and climate change

Still, the United Nations warned the latest figure "is cause for great concern".

Almost 11% of the world's population, or 815 million people, were chronically undernourished in 2016, according to a United Nations report. "At the same time, multiple forms of malnutrition are threatening the health of millions worldwide", the agencies were cited as saying by Xinhua news agency.

The figure rose by nearly 5 percent year-on-year in 2016 due to an increase in violent conflicts and climate-related shocks around the world, according to an United Nations report released Friday.

While people in countries with long-term conflict suffer more than those with intermittent conflict or peace, food insecurity can happen anywhere - even in Texas or Florida.

On the other hand, there has been a worrying increase of child obesity, with an estimated 41 million children around the world now overweight. Anaemia among women is another major problem, it says.

It singles out conflict, which is increasingly compounded by climate change, as one of the key drivers behind the resurgence of hunger and many forms of malnutrition. This study does not present a favorable outlook for the U.N.'s Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

The number of hungry began to rise in 2014, but this is the first time in more then a decade that the proportion of the global population going hungry has risen.

Sixty percent of the world's chronically hungry people were in areas experiencing man-made conflict.

After a prolonged decline, this recent increase could signal a reversal of trends.

A medical officer from Doctors Without Borders attends to a child with malnutrition in a clinic in Old Fangak Jonglei state South Sudan
Global hunger rising driven by conflicts and climate change

The apparent halt to declining hunger numbers is not yet reflected in the prevalence of child stunting, which continues to fall, though the pace of improvement is slower in some regions, the report warns.

While the amount of undernourished people around the world rose to the highest since 2008 previous year, it was still about 14 percent below a peak set in 2003.

Now, about 155 million children under five years old are affected. Obesity "is most severe in Northern America, Europe, and Oceania, where 28 percent of adults are classified as obese", the report states.

But the report also points to a link between climate change and conflict.

While this is still far below 900 million in 2000, the rise in conflicts, caused, in part, by climate-related disasters, has triggered an uptick.

Some 20 million people are at risk of starvation in parts of South Sudan, Somalia, northeast Nigeria and Yemen where violent conflicts have created much of the food crisis.

Over the past decade conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature, said José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General; David Beasley, WFP Executive Director; Gilbert F. Houngbo, IFAD President; Anthony Lake, UNICEF Executive Director, and Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, WHO Director-General.

They stressed that some of the highest proportions of food-insecure and malnourished children in the world were concentrated in conflict zones. "This is the way forward that we see to eradicate hunger and extreme poverty once and for all", he said.

More than half of those hungry live in areas affected by violent conflicts that have crippled local agriculture and restricted access to food supplies, with African nations being among the worst hit.

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