Explained: How COVID-19 Pandemic Impacts SDG 2 of Zero Hunger by 2030

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The Report confirmed that Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger by 2030) will be missed by a margin of nearly 660 million people. Of these 660 million, some 30 million may be linked to the pandemic's lasting effects.

New Delhi (ABC Live India): The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) on Monday released a report on the status of food security during the COVID-19 pandemic titled The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World.

The Report confirmed that Sustainable Development Goal 2 (Zero Hunger by 2030) will be missed by a margin of nearly 660 million people. Of these 660 million, some 30 million may be linked to the pandemic's lasting effects.

Ending hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030

With less than a decade left to reach the end of the time horizon set for achieving the SDGs, this report presents updated assessments of the likelihood that SDG Targets 2.1 and 2.2 will be achieved by 2030.

This year’s projections of the PoU up to 2030 were estimated using a structural approach based on a global dynamic general equilibrium model. Two scenarios were modelled: a scenario aimed at capturing the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, and a no-COVID-19 scenario.

Both scenarios assume that the trajectories are not disrupted by any of the main drivers of food insecurity and that momentous actions needed to transform food systems for food security and decrease inequalities in access to food are not implemented.

Under the COVID-19 scenario, following a projected peak of around 768 million (9.9 per cent of the population) in 2020, global hunger would decrease to around 710 million in 2021 (9 per cent), and then continue to decrease marginally to less than 660 million (7.7 per cent) in 2030. However, the evolution from 2020 to 2030 is quite different across regions. While a substantial reduction is projected for Asia (from 418 million to 300 million people), a significant increase is forecast for Africa (from more than 280 million to 300 million people), placing it on par with Asia by 2030 as the region with the highest number of undernourished people.

Under the COVID-19 scenario, about 30 million more people may face hunger in 2030 then if the pandemic had not occurred, revealing persistent effects of the pandemic on global food security. Greater inequality in access to food is mostly responsible for the observed difference. Globally, progress is being made for some forms of malnutrition, but the world is not on track to achieve targets for any of the nutrition indicators by 2030.

The current rates of progress on child stunting, exclusive breastfeeding and low birth weight is insufficient, and progress on child overweight, child wasting, anaemia in women of reproductive age and adult obesity is stalled (no progress) or the situation is worsening.

As the economic and other impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic continue to unfold, the trajectory over the next years is difficult to foresee.

Evidence is still scarce on the actual effects of the pandemic on various forms of malnutrition, including the prevalence of child stunting, wasting, overweight; adult obesity; anaemia in women of reproductive age; low birth weight; and exclusive breastfeeding. These effects will be compounded through the intergenerational effects of malnutrition and the resulting impacts on productivity and, hence, economic recovery.

However, it is clear that the COVID-19 pandemic has likely impacted the prevalence of multiple forms of malnutrition, and could have lasting effects beyond 2020, as we are already seeing in 2021. Therefore, exceptional efforts are required to address and overcome the effects of the pandemic as part of accelerating progress towards achieving SDG Target 2.2.

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