The calendar is about to turn the page over to a new year and that new year brings hope for a world currently gripped by a pandemic that has wreaked havoc for months. COVID-19 has made 2020 the year we wish we could forget but never will. With the roll-out of
vaccines, the end of the pandemic and its related global disruptions seem to be in sight. But not everyone will be able to breathe a sigh of relief.
As we draw to the end of 2020, COVID-19 rages on; hunger numbers are on the increase; and we are not on track to meet the 1.5C Paris target to limit global warming. According to the Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Dashboard, 72 million people have been infected with the novel coronavirus and 1.7 million have died. And counting. According to the IMF, the measures taken to combat the virus have led to GDP declines of around 4-10%, depending on the country.
Maternal nutrition has often been a neglected area and the global burden of maternal undernutrition in low-and middle-income countries remains staggeringly high. An estimated 450 million women have short stature, 240 million are underweight with a body mass index below 18.5, and 496 million are anaemic.
The Governments of Canada and Bangladesh, in partnership with the Government of Japan, today hosted a virtual launch of the Nutrition for Growth Year of Action, setting in motion a year-long effort to address a global hunger and nutrition crisis that has been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Ensuring markets provide enough nutritious and safe food to those living in poverty in low income countries is an urgent priority. Many in such markets across the world lack access to affordable foods that are safe and rich in the nutrients needed to sustain life and livelihoods.
In a blog a few days ago, I discussed a report released recently from Ceres2030, an initiative that aims to support governments to eliminate hunger while also improving diets, supporting livelihoods, and enhancing environmental sustainability by synthesising existing evidence on agricultural interventions and estimating the cost of achieving these interlinked goals by 2030
An additional USD 33 billion (60% from local citizens via taxes, 40% from official development assistance and donors) per year, from now to 2030, is needed to end hunger in a way that is sustainable for both the planet and the livelihoods of small-scale producers in low- and middle income countries.
Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) shoulder responsibility for around 50% of the food production and 70-100% of food sales in sub-Saharan Africa for key foods such as fruits and vegetables, animal-source foods, and cereals and legumes. As Ethiopia’s population is swiftly shifting to more urban environments, so are food habits, with 83% of foods and beverages purchased in markets, as opposed to 47% in rural areas.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition (GAIN) launched today "Food Systems for Children and Adolescents", a special issue of the international journal Global Food Security. This special collection of 11 articles calls for an urgent transformation of food systems that work for and with children.
In a time of many seemingly insurmountable challenges, there is something that we can fix. One thing, which if changed could simultaneously accelerate the end of hunger, ensure everyone has access to a healthy diet, dramatically reduce greenhouse gas emissions, reverse biodiversity loss, and make societies and economies more equitable and resistant to devastating pandemics such as COVID-19.