UN Report: COVID-19 Caused Hunger to Surge in 2020

2021 SOFI Report

Washington, D.C. – A new report released by the United Nations this week confirms what many had already predicted – the COVID-19 pandemic caused a surge in hunger globally. The report, The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI), now lists the impact of COVID-19 as a major driver of global hunger and malnutrition, along with conflict, climate change, and economic downturns.

“This report proves our warnings that the COVID-19 crisis would become a global hunger crisis,” said Jordan Teague, interim co-director of policy analysis & coalition building at Bread for the World. “The pandemic revealed and exacerbated problems that were already in place – including ongoing military conflict, disruptions to the food system caused by climate shocks, and a lack of equitable access to economic resources and nutritious food.”   

According to the report, between 720 million and 811 million people were hungry in 2020. This means as many as 161 million more people faced hunger in 2020 than in 2019. Africa is the hardest hit region, with the sharpest rise and double the prevalence of hunger than any other region. Africa is also the only region with increasing numbers of children with long-term malnutrition. However, all lower-income regions are affected.

The report notes that countries impacted by conflict, climate change, and/or economic downturn experienced increases in hunger in 2020, while hunger decreased in countries not affected by these drivers. Only one-quarter of countries are on track to end malnutrition by 2030, and around half of all children live in countries that are not on track.

“Although the COVID-19 pandemic has set us back, ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030 is still possible,” said Teague. “We know how to end hunger and malnutrition as God calls us to do. The world – including the United States – has the resources to end hunger and malnutrition. What we need is the political will from our leaders to make it happen.”

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