During the September 2015 Sustainable Development Summit, hunger and food insecurity was one of the key topics of discussion, producing the SDG 2 – End Hunger and Achieve Food Security. Some targets were laid for this Sustainable Development Goal in a bid to achieve by 2030, to support some of the 1996 World Food Summit goals that never came to mature.
1. End the global hunger crisis and ensure all people, especially the poor, have access to sufficient and nutritious food.
The United Nations does not view hunger as just the scarcity of food but also as the inability of individuals to obtain what the FAO refers to as nutritious food. Most families in the Sub-Saharan region cannot afford a balanced diet more than twice in a week, something the UN believes is the main culprit behind malnutrition in the region. The plans are thus that as much as access to food is the main goal, access to right foods be given equal attention.
2. End the malnutrition monster and address the nutritional needs of infants, adolescents, the elderly, and pregnant and lactating women.
3. Increase small-scale farmers’ agricultural productivity and incomes through equal and secure access to land and other factors of production, financial services, knowledge, opportunities and markets for non-farm employment and value addition.
The main target persons here are fishers, pastoralists, family farmers, indigenous people and women, who are usually either neglected and their skills under-utilised, lack the right resources to invest in agriculture, or have little knowledge of what agriculture and modern methods of production really entail. If this plan is successfully executed, the UN projects a 230million reduction in the number of hungry people all across the globe.
4. Formulate measures to ensure the food commodity market and its derivatives functions properly, and that market information reaches farmers in time to avoid surprises on such market aspects as price volatility and demand variations.
These measures will be to ensure these new farmers-cum-entrepreneurs face as little risk of loss as possible while they strengthen their foundations and familiarise themselves with agricultural production and marketing.
5. Influence the redefinition of trade restriction policies and distortions in large world commodity markets in favour of the interests of these small-scale farmers.
This can be achieved through the removal of some or all forms of subsidies on agricultural exports, and all other restrictions that might discourage production, in accordance with the Doha Development Round mandate.
6. Encourage investment, through such methods as increased international cooperation, in agricultural research, rural infrastructure, technology development, agricultural research and extension services, and livestock and plant gene banks, as a way of enhancing the capacity of agricultural productivity in developing countries, especially the least developed ones.
7. By 2020, ensure the UN helps maintain the genetic diversity of domesticated and farmed animals and their related wild species, seeds and cultivated plants through establishment of diversified plant and seed banks at both the national and international levels. The body is also to ensure that benefits reaped from genetic resource utilization, as internationally agreed, are shared fairly and equally.
8. Formulate resilient agricultural practices and sustainable food production systems that increase food production and productivity, help maintain ecosystems, boost adaptation to adverse weather conditions, climate change, flooding, droughts and diseases, and progressively boost soil and land quality.
Alarming Number of People Suffering from Hunger and Malnutrition
The United Nations Food and Agricultural Organisation recently released a report which estimates that more than 800 million people of the 7.3 billion in the world (one in nine) are currently suffering from acute undernourishment. The report further affirms that almost 90% of the hungry people, 790 million, are residents of developing countries in Sub-Saharan Africa and Asia. This represents one in eight or 13.5 percent of the total population of countries referred to as developing.
Between 1990-92 and 2012-14, the prevalence of undernourished people all over the world has reduced by 42% with only 9% of that being experienced in developing regions. Asia, being the most populous continent in the world, is home to 2/3 of the world’s undernourished people, but still boasts a better prevalence than the Sub-Saharan region where one in four people remain undernourished. Nonetheless, there has been a decrease in the prevalence of undernourishment in Sub-Sahara Africa from 33% in 1990-92 to 24% in 2012-14, although the number of people suffering undernourishment has actually increased.
The crisis takes its largest toll in India, Bangladesh, Pakistan and other Southern Asian countries, with the 270 million acutely undernourished people in 2012/14 being a marginal decrease of the 1990-92 estimate. China and a few South-eastern Asian nations such as Vietnam, Philippines and Indonesia have had cases of under-nutrition reducing by substantial rates while Latin America is the most successful among developing regions in fighting off hunger.
SDG 2 to Combat World Hunger
In the 1996 World Food Summit, it was resolved that the number of hungry people in developing nations be halved by 2015. A detailed plan for the same was laid and implementation took underway immediately. But then according to the 2012-14 study, the goal is unlikely to be achieved, though a significant reduction has been recorded and shall be further improved upon with the SDG 2. Latin America, the Caribbean region, South East Asia and East Asia have actually met the goal and now the major challenge remains the Sub-Saharan region.
On food security, the 2012-14 report shows that agriculture is still the world’s number one source of livelihood, with more than 40% of the total population depending solely on it. Particularly in the developing nations in Africa, agriculture has provided employment and proved an undisputed source of income in the last few decades. More than 80% of food consumed in the developing world originates from the 500 million small farms across the globe though the proportion has been on a steady decline lately.
The report further shows that men in these developing nations are far more productive than women, and that if women could access resources as easily as men, the number of hungry people in the world could reduce by 150 million.
Just like poverty and disease, global hunger and food security is a subject that well merit the attention of international leaders, even from the most developed nations. Through correct practices of fisheries, agriculture and forestry, production of nutritious food can take place, decent incomes will be generated and our brothers from developing countries will have their lifestyles and living standards greatly improved. Right now our soils, oceans and rivers are getting degraded, but if these goals ever get to be implemented, it’s possible to have our old good planet back.