This abstract is based on the report entitled, “The state of food security and nutrition in the world: transforming food systems for food security, improved nutrition and affordable health diets for all” published by Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, released in Rome in 2021.

The Covid pandemic has made the problems of hunger and malnutrition so mammoth that we are well behind meeting the SDGs target of 2030. It was estimated that one in three people did not have access to sufficient food in 2020 globally. Major drivers of food insecurity being conflicts, climatic extreme, slowdown of economy and unaffordable diets.

With more than 700 million faced hunger in 2020 (118 million more than the year 2019), 9.9 percent of undernourishment of 2020. In Asia alone, 57 million more people than 2019 have faced hunger in the year 2020. further, 12 percent (928 million) of world population have suffered from food security in 2020. The rate of food insecurity is 10 percent high among females than men in 2020. Adult obesity is also on the subsequent rise, from 11.7% in 2012 to 13.1% in 2016.

Nutritious food is essential for children’s and women’s growth. It is observed that 149 children below five years of age have suffered from stunting, 45 million from wasting and 38.9 million from overweight. Asia and Africa are the hot spots where more than 9 out of 10 children suffer from stunting and wasting and more than 7 out of 10 children suffer from overweight.

Cost of a healthy diet in 2019 (USD per person) is 4.04 globally, 4.13 for Asia and 4.12 for southern part of Asia. 44 percent of Asian population (1852.8 million) of which 77% of South Asia are unable to afford a healthy diet in 2019.

Thus, factors like external (climatic and conflicts) and internal (low productivity of food and insufficient supply of food) are affecting the food systems and pushing people away from the reach of nutritious food by increasing the cost of food.

There need some bold steps to be taken for eradication of hunger and most importantly by 2030. Pandemic had made the situation more tougher than ever and there are grey areas when it come to child stunting, exclusive breastfeeding, anaemia in females, child wasting, child overweight, etc. Pandemic has surely exacerbated the perineal issues affecting food systems from more than a decade like climatic shocks, conflicts and economic instability particularly in low- and-middle income countries. This all have increased the food insecurity to a far extent. In 2020 Asia have witnessed an increase in PoU and economic downturn by an increase in disaster and conflicts.

The report have subsequently focussed on building strong resilience mechanism for food systems. For example including women empowerment often results in improved health of women and child. The report talks about the impact of indigenous people and their cross sectoral and sustainable approach to food systems can necessarily bring the positive transformation.

Vulnerable population should be addressed with their needs at these difficult times by moving the wheel of food chain supply. There are various possible pathways towards the transformation of food systems.

  1. development of peacebuilding and humanitarian response in conflict driven areas
  2. scaling up climate resilience strategies
  3. resilience strategies for the most vulnerable
  4. Intervening along the food supply and thereby reducing the cost of nutritious food
  5. Strengthening the food environment
Food Security and Nutrition Report 2021
By Neeti Goutam, Sanrachana