UNGA president blames rising hunger on flawed food systems

Tijani Muhammad-Bande UNGA President

President of the United Nations General Assembly (PGA), Amb. Tijani Muhammad-Bande has blamed the global rise in hunger on “deep structural flaws” in food systems.

Muhammad-Bande spoke at the launch of the latest State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2020 on Monday.

The UNGA president, who is Nigeria’s Permanent Representative to the UN, described the situation as “a scourge unbefitting of our era’’.

“Malnutrition continues to surge at alarming rates with obesity, undernutrition and micronutrient deficiency affecting communities, and in particular, low-income groups around the world.

“Women and children are disproportionately affected.

“One in three women of reproductive age suffer from anaemia as a result of malnutrition.

“Moreover, more than one in five children under the age of five is stunted.

“This is a scourge unbefitting of our era and demonstrates the deep structural flaws in our food systems in a world where about one-third of all food produced is wasted or lost,’’ PGA said.

According to the report, no fewer than 687.8 million people suffered hunger in 2019, up by 10 million from 2018, and by nearly 60 million in five years.

It warns that the COVID-19 pandemic could push 130 million more people into chronic hunger by the end of 2020.

Muhammad-Bande highlighted measures countries should take to address the situation, including strengthening of food supply chains.

“Indeed, it is critical to focus attention where the risk is greatest.

“We must preserve critical humanitarian food supplies, expand social protection measures and prioritise nutrition assistance programmes for the most vulnerable.

“We must proceed in a sustainable manner, ensuring a pathway toward efficient land use, biodiversity and climate change mitigation.’’

The Nigerian envoy also underscored the need for transformation of food systems “into equitable, efficient, resilient and sustainable systems which are fit for purpose’’.

“As a result of rapid urbanisation, multinational corporations, traders and retailers have gained a crucial role in food supply chains.

“I trust that governments will forge new partnerships and deepen existing connections with the private sector and other stakeholders to develop synergies and enhance the outreach and health impact of our food systems,’’ Muhammad-Bande said.

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