A “perfect storm” of several crises, such as climate change and the Covid-19 pandemic, mean many nations are “knocking on famine’s door,” UN food chief David Beasley, also the director of the World Food Programme said.
As per a report by WHO already in the mid-2010s, hunger had started creeping upwards, dashing hopes of irreversible decline. In 2020 hunger further shot up in both absolute and proportional terms, outpacing population growth, the estimates of undernourished people are up from 8.4 percent in 2019 to some 9.9 percent last year.
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World estimates that Sustainable Development Goal 2 which mentioned 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.
In many parts of the world, the pandemic has triggered brutal recessions and jeopardized access to food. Yet even before the pandemic, hunger was spreading; progress on malnutrition lagged. This was all the more so in nations affected by conflict, climate extremes, or other economic downturns, or battling high inequality. The conditions are worse in nations that have recently found themselves in crisis such as Afghanistan where half of the population roughly estimated to be around 22.8 million is facing an acute food shortage. Similarly in Ethiopia, due to the ongoing conflict between the Prime Minister and rebel groups, as many as 5.2 million people are in urgent need of food assistance.
While crisis is raging at an all-time high and resources are limited, A small group of billionaires could help solve world hunger with just a fraction of their wealth. David Beasley, called on wealthy individuals to “step up now, on a one-time basis” – specifically naming the world’s two richest men, Jeff Bezos and Elon Musk.
He further said, “$6 billion to help 42 million people that are literally going to die if we don’t reach them. It’s not complicated.” According to Bloomberg, Musk has a net worth of nearly $289 billion, meaning the donation will only lighten his wallet by just 2%. Similarly, donation if any, made by Bezos who has a net worth of $196 million, will put no bump in his bank.
Earlier in the past, UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres in a speech also pointed to the fact that billionaires were “joyriding to space while millions go hungry on Earth.”
The need of the hour is that, looks like due to waging wars, population explosion and climatic conditions, the food crisis is far from over as Beasley reiterated “I don’t know where they are getting the food from. We are out of fuel, we are out of cash, in terms of paying our people and we are running out of money and we can’t get our trucks in.”