A Third of East African Population ‘Undernourished’

ADDIS ABEBA – An estimated a third of the east African population are undernourished, says a new UN report claims.

The pace of progress in halving the number of children who are stunted and in reducing the number of babies born with low birth weight globally is too slow.

And the annual The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report, released Monday, says the “situation is most alarming in Africa,” as the region has the highest rates of hunger in the world.

It says the numbers are continuing to “slowly but steadily rise in almost all subregions”.

In Eastern Africa in particular, “close to a third of the population (30.8 percent) is undernourished”, the report claims.

Across the continent, “in addition to climate and conflict, economic slowdowns and downturns are driving the rise”.

Since 2011, almost half the countries where rising hunger occurred due to economic slowdowns or stagnation were in Africa, according to the report.

The largest number of undernourished people – more than 500 million – live in Asia, mostly in southern Asian countries.

Together, Africa and Asia bear the greatest share of all forms of malnutrition, accounting for more than nine out of ten of all stunted children and over nine out of ten of all wasted children worldwide, the annual report says.

The two continents are also home to nearly three-quarters of all overweight children worldwide, largely driven by consumption of unhealthy diets.

Globally, an estimated 820 million people did not have enough to eat in 2018, up from 811 million in the previous year, which is the third year of increase in a row.

This underscores the immense challenge of achieving the Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030, says FAO’s report.

“Our actions to tackle these troubling trends will have to be bolder, not only in scale but also in terms of multi-sectoral collaboration,” the heads of the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) urged in their joint foreword to the report.

“We must foster pro-poor and inclusive structural transformation focusing on people and placing communities at the centre to reduce economic vulnerabilities and set ourselves on track to ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition,” the UN leaders said.

Caption: This year’s The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report has found that world hunger is still not going down after three years and obesity is still growing. (Photo FAO)

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