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Progress towards zero hunger has reversed, WFP facing $4.5 bln donor shortfall

The world is no longer moving towards zero hunger and progress has stalled and reversed, said the United Nations World Food Program.

Achieving zero hunger is the second of the U.N.’s Sustainable Development Goals, or SDGs.

WFP said on June 16 that up to 270.5 million people in 80 countries that it operates in are estimated to be acutely food insecure or at high risk this year.

Conflict, economic shocks, natural disasters, and the socio-economic fallout from COVID-19 are the drivers of food insecurity.

“Up to 120.7 million additional people are facing food insecurity today compared to before the pandemic, an unprecedented and alarming increase of 81%,” said the WFP.

In the ten countries with the highest numbers of people in acute food insecurity this year, 133 million are affected compared to 68 million in 2017. Among them, in Afghanistan the number of food insecure people increased from 7.6 million in 2017 to 16.9 million at the start of 2021, 8.9 million to 12.8 million in Nigeria, and 6.5 million to 12.3 million in Syria.

The WFP assisted the largest number of hungry people in its history last year – 115.5 million people, up from 97 million in 2019. 29% of people the agency assisted in 2020 were either refugees, internally displaced persons, or returnees.

The U.N. body this year is targeting to help 139 million people. It has reached 67 million in the first quarter of this year, more than 3 million compared to the same period in 2020.

The agency’s operational requirements have ballooned to $15.3 billion and it is facing a substantial shortfall.

“The global contribution forecast for 2021 is now projected at $8.3 billion, which would cover 55% of the increase operational requirements. From a near-term resourcing perspective, WFP still requires $4.5 billion (60%) to meet outstanding six-month funding needs from June to November 2021.”

The price for inaction will be measured in lost lives, increased food insecurity and setbacks in progress towards long-term development goals, said WFP.

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