Although global hunger had fallen more than a quarter since 2000, recent events like war and climate shocks are causing it to take a u-turn again, and the first victim of this is going to be Africa, said an annual Global Hunger Index 2017 on Thursday.
Among the 119 countries surveyed, nearly half had “serious”, “alarming” and “extremely alarming” hunger levels between the years 2012 and 2016. The worst affected country was the war-torn Central African Republic. Chad, Sierra Leone, Madagascar, and Zambia were next on the list.
“Conflict and climate-related shocks are at the heart of this problem,” said Dominic MacSorley, chief executive of Concern, which compiled the report along with the International Food Policy Research Institute and Welthungerhilfe. Not only that, about half of the populations in the hungriest countries were short of food, it said.
According to the UN, the global hunger levels have risen for the first time in more than a decade. Now 11 percent of the world’s total population or 815 million people are affected solely by hunger.
South Sudan has already been struck by famine earlier this year, and there is a high risk of its return anytime now, said UN. If it strikes again, this time it may affect neighboring countries like Nigeria, Somalia, and Yemen, which are going through the same conflicts. Yemen came sixth in the index as its hunger crisis has spiked since 2015 when civil war erupted and the data covers the period 2012 to 2016.
In spite of being flood-secure, Nigeria also made it to the list due to food shortages in the country which lead many people to starvation, solely caused by the extremist Islamist group Boko Haram. “We must build the resilience of communities on the ground, but we must also bolster public and political solidarity internationally,” MacSorley said in a statement.
The index is based on levels of hunger in the general population, and rates of wasting, stunting, and deaths among children under five years old. The survey found that 14 countries – including Senegal, Azerbaijan, Peru, Panama, Brazil, and China – have made significant improvements since 2000.
“The world needs to act as one community with the shared goal of ensuring not a single child goes to bed hungry each night and no-one is left behind,” MacSorley said.