UN agencies raise alarm over weakened fight against hunger in Asia | Daily News

UN agencies raise alarm over weakened fight against hunger in Asia

The warning came during the launch of a new regional report revealing that the reduction in the number of hungry and malnourished people - including children - has come to a virtual standstill in many parts of Asia and the Pacific.

The Asia and Pacific region accounts for well over half of the world’s undernourished - nearly half a billion people (486 million). While recently released global figures indicate an overall rise in the prevalence of hunger worldwide, returning to levels from a decade ago, this regional report points out that stagnation in combating hunger and malnutrition in Asia and the Pacific is also a major concern due to the large numbers of people involved.

The report, Asia and the Pacific Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition, published today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO), highlights a number of converging challenges that threaten to undermine the Sustainable Development Goal to end all forms of malnutrition by 2030 (SDG 2).

“Progress in reducing undernourishment has slowed tremendously. The report’s estimates show that the number of hungry people has barely changed during the past two years, making it increasingly difficult to achieve the Zero Hunger target of SDG 2,” the regional heads of the four UN agencies wrote in their joint foreword.

The Asia-Pacific region is home to more than half of the world’s malnourished children. Malnutrition covers a broad spectrum and affects people of all ages - ranging from severe undernutrition to overweight and obesity - but children in particular, continue to bear the burden. In this region, 79 million children, or one child in every four below the age of five, suffers from stunting and 34 million children are wasting, 12 million of whom suffer from severe acute malnutrition with drastically increased risk of death. While some significant progress has been made towards a reduction of stunting, there has been little improvement in wasting during the past decade.

“The sad reality is that an unacceptably large number of children in the region continue to face the multiple burden of malnutrition despite decades of economic growth. This is a colossal human loss given the association between undernutrition and poor cognitive development, with severe lifelong consequences for the future of these children,” the regional UN heads said, noting this also results in economic losses to a nation’s economy due to missed opportunities of human potential.

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