Climate change is increasing global hunger, with some countries worse off today than a decade ago, a new study shows. Since 2000, progress in reducing hunger has been uneven, with it persisting in many countries and increasing in others, according to the 2019 Global Hunger Index (GHI), published today.
One country — the Central African Republic — suffers from a level of hunger that is ‘extremely alarming’ (the highest level on the GHI scale), while four countries — Chad, Madagascar, Yemen, and Zambia — suffer from levels of hunger that are ‘alarming’. Of the 117 countries ranked as part of the index, 43 have ‘serious’ levels of hunger.
The 14th annual report in the GHI series, published by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and its German NGO partner, Welthungerhilfe, reveals that nine countries in the ‘moderate’, ‘serious’, ‘alarming’, or ‘extremely alarming’ categories have higher scores today than in 2010. These are are the Central African Republic, Madagascar, Venezuela, Yemen, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritania, Lebanon, and Oman.
“Progress made towards achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goal of Zero Hunger by 2030 is now under threat or is being reversed,” said Concern Worldwide CEO Dominic MacSorley.
“This report shows that multiple countries have higher hunger levels now than in 2010, and approximately 45 countries are set to fail to achieve low levels of hunger by 2030.
Conflict, inequality, and the effects of climate change have all contributed to persistently high levels of hunger, and food insecurity, around the world.
This year’s report focuses on climate change — an increasingly relevant threat to the world’s hungry and vulnerable people. The report calls for increased efforts in response to extreme climatic events, violent conflicts, and economic slowdowns, which continue to drive hunger in many parts of the world.
Since the early 1990s, the number of extreme weather-related disasters, such as storms, droughts, fires and floods, has doubled, reducing yields of major crops, and contributing to food-price hikes and income losses. These disasters have disproportionately harmed people on low incomes and reduced their access to food.
In her foreword, former President of Ireland Mary Robinson said the report provides a timely illustration of how climate breakdown disrupts food systems, “jeopardising one of the most fundamental rights we all share as human beings — the right to adequate and sufficient food’.
“With the number of hungry people rising from 785m, in 2015, to 822m, in 2018, we can no longer afford to regard the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Climate Agreement as voluntary and a matter for each member state to decide on its own,” said Ms Robinson.
“Instead, the full implementation of both has become imperative, in order to secure a liveable world for our children and grandchildren. This requires a change of mindset at the global political level.”
On a global level, the prevalence of undernourishment has stagnated since 2015, and the absolute number of people without regular access to adequate calories has actually risen, from 785m, in 2015, to 822m, in 2018.
This increase was greatest in countries in sub-Saharan Africa affected by conflict and drought.