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How to Address Global Hunger

Regulating financial activity in global commodities markets, while important, is not enough to stave off rising food insecurity. Policymakers must also take measures to help developing countries build up reserves of essential items and cope with price fluctuations, possibly through a publicly administered virtual reserve mechanism.

NEW DELHI – Among the multiple crises that have erupted around the world, the avoidable tragedy of growing hunger receives only fleeting mention. And any attention that it does attract is apparently not enough to prompt global policymakers to act.

Yet a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations makes for grim reading. According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2023, an estimated 42% of the world’s population – more than 3.1 billion people – were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2021. Moreover, global hunger is still far above pre-pandemic levels, with around 122 million more people facing food insecurity in 2022 than in 2019, and is on the rise throughout Africa, Western Asia, and the Caribbean, owing partly to higher prices.

At the national level, a worrying pattern can be seen: the countries with the largest increases in food insecurity are also those engulfed in debt crises and experiencing the severest effects of climate change.