The State Of Food Security And Nutrition In The World 2020

The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 has been prepared by the FAO Agricultural Development Economics Division in collaboration with the Statistics Division of the Economic and Social Development Department and a team of technical experts from FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO.

Key Messages

  • Current estimates are that nearly 690 million people are hungry, or 8.9 percent of the world population – up by 10 million people in one year and by nearly 60 million in five years.
  • The number of people affected by severe food insecurity, which is another measure that approximates hunger, shows a similar upward trend. In 2019, close to 750 million – or nearly one in ten people in the world – were exposed to severe levels of food insecurity.
  • Considering the total affected by moderate or severe food insecurity, an estimated 2 billion people in the world did not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food in 2019.
  • The world is not on track to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. If recent trends continue, the number of people affected by hunger would surpass 840 million by 2030.
  • A preliminary assessment suggests that the COVID-19 pandemic may add between 83 and 132 million people to the total number of undernourished in the world in 2020 depending on the economic growth scenario.
  • Globally, the burden of malnutrition in all its forms remains a challenge. According to current estimates, in 2019, 21.3 percent (144.0 million) of children under 5 years of age were stunted, 6.9 percent (47.0 million) wasted and 5.6 percent (38.3 million) overweight.
  • The world is making progress but is not on track to achieve the 2025 and 2030 targets for child stunting and low birthweight, and for exclusive breastfeeding, is on track only for the 2025 target. The prevalence of wasting is notably above the targets. Most regions are not on track to achieve the targets for child overweight.
  • Adult obesity is on the rise in all regions. Urgent action is needed to reverse these upward trends.
  • The nutritional status of the most vulnerable population groups is likely to deteriorate further due to the health and socio-economic impacts of COVID-19.
  • Food insecurity can worsen diet quality and consequently increase the risk of various forms of malnutrition, potentially leading to undernutrition as well as overweight and obesity.
  • Low-income countries rely more on staple foods and less on fruits and vegetables and animal source foods than high-income countries.
  • Only in Asia, and globally in upper-middle-income countries, are there enough fruits and vegetables available for human consumption to be able to meet the FAO/WHO recommendation of consuming a minimum of 400 g/person/day.
  • While we still face significant challenges in just accessing food, challenges are even more important in terms of accessing healthy diets.
  • Healthy diets are unaffordable to many people, especially the poor, in every region of the world.
  • The cost of a healthy diet exceeds the international poverty line (established at USD 1.90 purchasing power parity (PPP) per person per day), making it unaffordable for the poor.
  • All diets have hidden costs, which must be understood to identify trade-offs and synergies in relation to other SDGs.
  • Under current food consumption patterns, diet-related health costs linked to mortality and non-communicable diseases are projected to exceed USD 1.3 trillion per year by 2030.
  • Shifting to healthy diets can contribute to reducing health and climate-change costs by 2030, because the hidden costs of these healthy diets are lower compared to those of current consumption patterns.
  • The adoption of healthy diets is projected to lead to a reduction of up to 97 percent in direct and indirect health costs and 41–74 percent in the social cost of GHG emissions in 2030.
  • However, not all healthy diets are sustainable and not all diets designed for sustainability are always healthy. This important nuance is not well understoodand is missing from ongoing discussions and debates on the potential contribution of healthy diets to environmental sustainability.
  • To increase the affordability of healthy diets, the cost of nutritious foods must come down.
  • Countries will need a rebalancing of agricultural policies and incentives towards more nutritionsensitive investment and policy actions all along the food supply chain to reduce food losses and enhance efficiencies at all stages.

Report On India

  • The number of undernourished people in India has declined by 60 million, from 21.7 per cent in 2004-06 to 14 per cent in 2017-19.
  • There were less stunted children but more obese adults in India.
  • The number of undernourished people in India declined from 249.4 million in 2004–06 to 189.2 million in 2017–19.
  • In percentage terms, the prevalence of undernourishment in the total population in India declined from 21.7 per cent in 2004-06 to 14 per cent in 2017-19.
  • The prevalence of stunting in children under 5 years of age in India declined from 47.8 per cent in 2012 to 34.7 per cent in 2019 or from 62 million in 2012 to 40.3 million in 2019.
  • More Indian adults became obese between 2012-16.

Impact of Covid 19

  • Across the planet, the report forecasts, that the COVID-19 pandemic could push over 130 million more people into chronic hunger by the end of 2020.
  • In percentage terms, Africa is the hardest hit region and becoming more so, with 19.1 per cent of its people undernourished.
  • At the current trends, by 2030, Africa will be home to more than half of the world’s chronically hungry. The COVID-19 is intensifying the vulnerabilities and inadequacies of global food systems – understood as all the activities and processes affecting the production, distribution and consumption of food.
  • While it is too soon to assess the full impact of the lockdowns and other containment measures, the report estimates that at a minimum, another 83 million people, and possibly as many as 132 million, may go hungry in 2020 as a result of the economic recession triggered by COVID-19.
  • The setback throws into further doubt the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal two, whose target is achieving zero hunger.
  • The latest estimates are that a staggering three billion people or more cannot afford a healthy diet.
  • In sub-Saharan Africa and southern Asia, this is the case for 57 per cent of the population – though no region, including north America and Europe, is spared.

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The study calls on the governments to mainstream nutrition in their approaches to agriculture; work to cut cost-escalating factors in the production, storage, transport, distribution and marketing of food – including by reducing inefficiencies and food loss and waste.

It also urges them to support local small-scale producers to grow and sell more nutritious foods, and secure their access to markets; prioritise children’s nutrition as the category in greatest need; foster behaviour change through education and communication; and embed nutrition in national social protection systems and investment strategies.

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Cash Transfer

The report noted that generally, cash transfer programmes are considered an appropriate instrument to increase dietary diversity in well-connected urban or rural contexts, while in-kind transfers are more appropriate for remote areas, where access to markets is severely limited.

“In India, for instance, the country’s Targeted Public Distribution System represents the largest social protection programme in the world, reaching 800 million people with subsidised cereals that can be purchased from more than 500,000 fair price shops across the country.”

  • In India, rural business hubs have facilitated linking smallholder farmers to rapidly growing urban markets.
  • Apart from procuring food products from the farmers, these hubs provide services such as farm inputs and equipment, as well as access to credit.
  • Having food processing, packaging and cooling facilities at the same location allows consumers to benefit from economies of agglomeration and, on the whole, reduce transaction costs throughout the food supply chain.
  • This model in India has given rise to rural supermarkets that provide cheaper staple food, it added.

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