Sunday 17 November 2019

Breakdown of climate is 'driving rise in hunger'

Change of mindset needed: Former President Mary Robinson. Photo: Steve Humphreys
Change of mindset needed: Former President Mary Robinson. Photo: Steve Humphreys

Caroline O'Doherty

Climate change is undoing progress in tackling global hunger with almost one billion people now going hungry, the country's largest aid agency has warned.

Concern's annual Global Hunger Index shows "alarming" levels of hunger in four countries in Africa and the Middle East while one country, the Central African Republic, is suffering hunger categorised as "extremely alarming".

Of the 117 poorer nations rated for the index, 43 have hunger levels rated as serious.

In total, 822 million people are classified as hungry compared to 785 million three years ago.

Since the early 1990s, the number of extreme weather-related disasters has doubled, affecting major crops and food prices, the report shows.

Former President of Ireland and climate action campaigner Mary Robinson said the findings illustrated the devastating impact of climate change on the basic human right to adequate food.

"It is a terrible global indictment that after decades of sustained progress in reducing global hunger, climate change and conflict are undermining food security in the world's most vulnerable regions," she wrote in a foreword.

The index measures different aspects of hunger to reach an overall rating but some statistics stand out. In Burundi, 56pc of children under five have stunted growth, in Somalia one in eight children dies before the age of five and in South Sudan, seven million people out of a population of 12.5 million are facing crisis levels of food shortages.

The report warns of the fragility of food supplies in the face of climate change. Rice is the staple of more than half the world's population, but the crop is sensitive to minor changes in temperature.

The rise in hunger has been greatest in countries in Africa lying south of the Sahara, which are affected by both conflict and drought.

Ms Robinson said the Paris Agreement and the United Nations target of achieving zero hunger by 2030 could no longer be viewed as voluntary.

"The full implementation of both has become imperative in order to secure a liveable world," she said. "This requires a change of mindset at the global political level."

Dominic MacSorley of Concern said at least nine countries were worse off than in 2010 and 45 would still be suffering moderate, serious or worse hunger by 2030.

"Conflict, inequality, and the effects of climate change have all contributed to persistently high levels of hunger and food insecurity," he said.

After the Central African Republic, the countries worst affected are Chad, Madagascar, Yemen, and Zambia. Lack of data made it impossible to rate a number of other countries where hunger was known to be a significant concern.

Irish Independent

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