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Hunger, Malnutrition, Conflict Has Complex Relationship: FAO On World Food Day

This relationship may be posing the biggest threat to world for food insecurity and can be a reason for an agriculture giant like India to still remain on a poor position on global hunger index

Photo Credit : Shutterstock


India stands with shame securing a 100th position on the global hunger index, perhaps the most talked off story in last few days. Today that is October 16th is ‘The world food day’. While United Nations which has lost its importance in many strategy related issues. It has still a vast network to serve people in food insecure world. Its food and agriculture arm, known as Food & Agriculture Association or FAO, headed by its director general Jose D. da Silva will meet with the G7 nation’s agriculture ministers in Rome along with Christian head of the state, the current Pope. The UN may again give a new guideline to the world for food security. A challenge that still seeks response with utmost importance.

Prior to the world food day, the FAO has shared its point of view on the complex relationship, between the Hunger, Malnutrition & Conflict, which may be posing the biggest threat to world for food insecurity and can be a reason for an agriculture giant like India to still remain on a poor position on global hunger index.

FAO says, ‘Of the 815 million chronically food-insecure and malnourished people in the world the vast majority – 489 million –live in countries affected by conflict. While the proportion is even more pronounced for undernourished children. ‘Almost 122 million, or 75 percent, of stunted (malnourished) children under age five live in countries affected by conflict’, which is a critical observation, that with the difference in average prevalence between conflict and non-conflict affected countries at nine percentage points.

"Peace is of course the key to ending these crises, but we cannot wait for peace to take action. It is extremely important to ensure that these people have the conditions to continue producing their own food. Vulnerable rural people cannot be left behind, especially youth and women" José Graziano da Silva, FAO Director-General

Simple correlations show higher levels of chronic and acute food insecurity and under nutrition in countries affected by conflict. In 2016, the un-weighted average of the prevalence of undernourishment in countries affected by conflict was almost eight percentage points higher than countries not affected by conflict. Although the frequency of wars had been decreasing in recent decades to reach an all-time low in 2005, there has recently been a surge in the number of violent conflicts and conflict-related deaths. Violent conflicts have increased dramatically since 2010 and are currently at an all-time high, a worrying sign that current trends are likely to continue over the coming years.

Of these, non-state conflicts – between two organized armed groups of which neither is the government or a state – have increased by 125 percent since 2010, surpassing all other types of conflict. State-based conflict also rose by over 60 per cent in the same period. Moreover, civil wars or internal conflicts have now surpassed the number of interstate or external conflicts between states. In other words, there has been a shift away from conflict between nations to conflicts within nations. As internal conflicts become more prominent, external parties are increasingly likely to become involved or to suffer the consequences of violence; thus, local conflicts evolve into regional or even continental crises.

In an interesting observation FAO has also accepted that conflicts flow towards border that are regional in nature has a lot to do for food insecurity in the world.

It says, ‘Violence and conflict are unevenly distributed across continents, with most concentrated in four regions: the Near East and North Africa, northern sub-Saharan Africa, Central America and Eastern Europe, particularly Ukraine. Many of the most protracted conflicts currently flow across borders and are regional in nature, including in the Horn of Africa, the Great Lakes region of Africa, between Afghanistan, India and Pakistan and from Cameroon, Chad and northern Nigeria across the Sahel.

Conflict is a main driver of population displacement, and displaced populations are among the most vulnerable in the world, experiencing high levels of food insecurity and under nutrition. The number of refugees and internally displaced persons (IDPs) has increased significantly with the greater number of conflicts, doubling from 2007 to 2016 to total about 64 million people. One in every 113 people is now either refugee, internally displaced or seeking asylum.

Conflict and violence are causing and protracting food insecurity in host communities as well. For example, the civil war in the Syrian Arab Republic has driven more than Six million people to flee their homes to other locations within the country and another Five million to neighbouring countries. Displaced people today spend an average of more than 17 years in camps or with host communities.