Global hunger rising driven by conflicts and climate change

FACTBOX-Global hunger rises for first time in a decade - UN agencies

At the same time, multiple forms of malnutrition are threatening the health of millions worldwide.

"We have a lot of research. which says food insecurity doesn't directly lead to conflict, but it is a very powerful trigger".

But proportionally Africa is hardest hit, with 20 percent of people not having enough food - in Asia the ratio is 11.7 percent, according to the reported prepared by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, the International Fund for Agricultural Development, the United Nations Children's Fund, the World Food Program and the World Health Organization.

Children drink from a tap during recess at a UNICEF supported primary school inside Bukasi internally displaced people's camp, in Maiduguri, Borno state, Nigeria. In 2016, the report said, 41 million children who were under age 5 were overweight.

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The increase, the first in a decade, is largely due to rising violent conflicts, climate change, lifestyle changes and economic slowdown.

There were 815 million people going hungry previous year, 38 million more than in 2015, five United Nations agencies said in the first global assessment since governments set an worldwide target to eliminate hunger and malnutrition by 2030, as one of a set of Sustainable Development Goals.

While the report blamed conflicts as the main driver of food insecurity, hunger is worsened when conflict areas are also affected by climate-related problems such as droughts and floods linked in part to the El Nino phenomenon.

After fair progress in fighting hunger in a decade, the number of chronically hungry people in world is on rise, sending alarm bell to the agencies working for hunger free world. The number of overweight children has also increased 1 percent between 2005 and 2016; and for adults, obesity more than doubled everywhere in the world between 1980 and 2014 and continues to accelerate.

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After a prolonged decline, this recent increase could signal a reversal of trends. Some 11 percent of the world's population is affected. Obesity "is most severe in Northern America, Europe, and Oceania, where 28 percent of adults are classified as obese", the report states. Stunting can undermine children's physical and mental development.

But the report also points to a link between climate change and conflict.

Earlier this year, starvation struck parts of South Sudan, and there is a threat of starvation in conflict-affected countries such as Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen. "This is an indictment of humanity", said World Food Programme chief David Beasley.

Some of the highest proportions of food-insecure and malnourished children are found in countries affected by conflict, a situation that is even more alarming in countries characterised by prolonged conflicts and fragile institutions.

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The five United Nations agencies heads also reaffirmed their determination and commitment now more than ever to step up concerted action to fulfil the ambitions of the 2030 Agenda and achieve a world free from hunger, malnutrition and poverty.

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