SOFI 2021: Pandemic Causing Hunger Crisis, Says New Report

July 27, 2021

811 Million People Live in Hunger According to the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report

It’s no surprise that the COVID-19 pandemic is disrupting progress towards many of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Notably, it’s looking more and more like we won’t reach our goal of ending hunger by 2030 if we don’t make significant changes in our global approach. The 2021 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World Report (SOFI) explores this new reality. According to the report, up to 811 million people in 2020 lived in hunger—that’s 161 million more people than in 2019.

Additional Findings of the 2021 SOFI Report

  • The rate of undernourishment rose from 8.4% in 2019 to 9.9% in 2020.
  • Nearly 420 million people living in hunger are in Asia, over 280 million live in Africa, and at least 60 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • Around 1 in 3 people did not have access to sufficient food in 2020, an increase of 320 million people within a single year.
  • The rate of moderate to severe food insecurity is 10% higher in women than men.
  • Without significant modifications to our current global strategy, around 660 million people may still live in hunger in 2030

Among the many factors contributing to the declining progress, the pandemic limited income for many people and made it difficult for them to afford nutritious food, especially in areas where hunger was already prevalent. But, as we’ve explored before, rates of hunger have been steadily increasing for the last several years, in large part due to climate change and conflict.

Hunger exists at a nexus of issues. Water rights, gender equity, government inaction, access to education, child marriage and other socially-supported inequities all contribute to chronic hunger. Learn more about the work we do on each of these issues

Because of these factors, our current rate of progress will not be enough to end hunger by 2030. This is why we need to implement a bold, healthy food systems focused approach. Simply addressing individual parts of the system in isolation ignores the relationships and interactions between each interconnected part of the system. Instead, our global, sociopolitical systems need to end hunger by addressing the complex factors that affect it.

At The Hunger Project (THP), this is exactly what we do with our three-step, holistic approach to ending hunger and poverty. We start with women and catalyze them to realize their potential as leaders; we mobilize communities to create and lead their own development actions; and we build relationships with local and national governments so the work done by these communities is secure and sustainable. Through our women centered, community-led approach, people living in conditions of hunger work towards self-reliance.

This approach not only lays the foundation for a sustainable end to hunger, it also strengthens a community’s resilience to disruption —disruption like a global pandemic. While it’s no doubt that the pandemic created unique and devastating challenges for our partners in Program Countries, we also saw community members, especially women, rising to the test and leading their communities to safety. Through sharing life saving information in accessible languages, distributing food and supplies and expanding access to healthcare, communities came together and used their own skills and resources to address public health concerns.

Bineta Diop, a member of our Global Board of Directors, states that “building back better is shifting the power from where it is at the top and bringing it down to the community. It is the smart thing to do, it’s the right thing to do. You need to make sure the transformation is not just on top. You can think global, but you have to act local.” Solutions to the issues of poverty and hunger are created by the very people who suffer from them.

Ending hunger by 2030 is not an easy task, especially with recent setbacks, but it is possible. It requires collaboration on a global scale to address problems in our food systems. Achieving this ambitious goal requires us to take a comprehensive approach while empowering local communities. Every hungry person is the solution and they can lead the way to zero hunger by 2030.

Learn more about The Hunger Project’s community-led approach to hunger and join us in our fight against hunger.

The 2021 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World report was published jointly by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO).