GLOBAL: Hunger has risen, says new report
Globally 2.4 billion people did not have regular access to food.
NEW ROCHELLE, NY (Aug. 1, 2023) Top of Form Hunger has risen since 2019 due to the COVID-19 pandemic and repeated weather events and conflicts, including the war in Ukraine, according to the latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report published the Food and Agriculture Organization, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, UNICEF, the World Health Organization, and the World Food Programme.
The annual food security report indicated that in 2022 between 691 million and 783 million people were hungry, 122 million more than in 2019 before the pandemic. Globally 2.4 billion people did not have regular access to food. Of those, an estimated 900 million faced severe food insecurity.
The report warns that if trends continue, the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger by 2030 will not be reached. Global hunger numbers did stall between 2021 and 2022, but many places are facing deepening food crises. The report indicates that hunger reduction was observed in Asia and Latin America, but hunger was on the rise in Western Asia and the Caribbean. All sub-regions of Africa in 2022 saw a rise and the continent remains the worst-affected region with one in five people facing hunger, more than twice the global average.
Children continue to suffer causing malnutrition and stunting. Millions of children under age 5 continue to suffer from malnutrition. In 2022, 148 million children under age 5 (22.3 percent) were stunted, 45 million (6.8 percent) were wasted and 37 million (5.6 percent) were overweight.
In a recent press release about the report, Catherine Russell, executive director of UNICEF, said, “Malnutrition is a major threat to children’s survival, growth and development. The scale of the nutrition crisis demands a stronger response focused on children, including prioritizing access to nutritious and affordable diets and essential nutrition services, protecting children and adolescents from nutrient-poor, ultra-processed foods, and strengthening food and nutrition supply chains including for fortified and therapeutic foods for children.”
Around the globe, Salesian missionaries and Salesian Missions, the U.S. development arm of the Salesians of Don Bosco, work to provide food programs including school feeding programs and agriculture education and production to help combat hunger.
School feeding program supports students in Rwanda
Students attending Don Bosco Technical School in Gatenga, Rwanda, received nutritional support thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions. The support, which covered from January to May 2023, provided for the purchase of food for breakfast, lunch and dinner at the school.
The funding ensured proper nutrition so students could focus on their studies and had the motivation to learn. Often, the meals students receive at the school are the only meals they have in a day. As a result of this donation, the learning environment improved, and students and staff were more focused on their tasks. The school also has an organic farm. During the first part of 2023, the number of vegetables planted in the garden increased due to more space that became available for the farm.
A Salesian missionary at the school said, “Don Bosco Gatenga school staff and the whole Salesian community, including students and their families, are grateful and happy for the donor support and thinking of the youth in need here. We extends our thanks to all the donors.”
Partnerships provide food support in Haiti
Youth at Don Bosco Lakay in Cap-Haïtien, Haiti, have better nutrition thanks to donations of rice-meals from Rise Against Hunger, an international humanitarian organization growing a global movement to end hunger. The rice-meal donations, distributed in the second half of 2022, are made possible by an ongoing partnership with Salesian Missions.
Don Bosco Lakay faced challenges when armed gangs paralyzed the country’s capital. As a result, there have been issues with sanitation and cholera from dirty water, as well as rising prices of food and other commodities.
Because of this, Don Bosco Lakay was unable to open its school for four months at the end of 2022. There is concern about the lasting impact this will have on youth who already missed schooling due to closures during the COVID-19 pandemic. During that time, Salesians provided extracurricular activities for youth in their care.
The rice-meals help provide for the shortfalls caused by the political turmoil and rising prices in the country.
Direct support given to families in Madagascar
Salesian missionaries were able to provide support for 20 families in the Ivato district of Madagascar thanks to donor funding from Salesian Missions.
With the funding, Salesians purchased rice, pulses, sugar and more to meet the daily food needs of the families, along with soap and candles. Salesians also taught the families about the importance of taking care of their bodies and health, with a focus on personal hygiene and nutrition. In addition, Salesians provided psychological support to help families overcome the difficulties they encounter in their daily lives.
One Salesian missionary said, “This project is helping people in need by providing them with basic necessities, hygiene supplies and medicines to improve their lives. We are convinced that these activities have helped to improve their health and general well-being. We hope that this project can be continued in the future to help more people in need.”
Farmers improve harvest in Nigeria
Salesian missionaries in the Imo state of Nigeria had the funding to help local farmers thanks to donor support from Salesian Missions. The project “Post-COVID Empowerment through the Provision of Poultry and Farm Crops for Poor Young People and Women in Nigeria” supported four poor families with their farms in 2022.
These families had established small-scale farms and saw improved revenues at harvest time given the training and support received from the Salesians. Training topics included crops, organic manure, pest control and spacing of crops. Additional training was provided directly at the farm locations, and it included clearing, mapping and planting periods.
One Salesian involved with the project noted, “The project has immensely boosted the morale and determination of the beneficiaries. The funds received have greatly supported and enhanced the farm activities, especially the capacity and new knowledge they have received. Now the people are equipped with skills, knowledge, and capacity to improve their farms and revenues. They have better knowledge of farm management and will be able to improve on their harvest for the years ahead.”
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