More individual efforts and collective commitment to end hunger

Africa needs to accelerate action to meet the
Zero Hunger target by 2030

Accra, Oct. 17, GNA — The FAO Assistant
Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, Bukar Tijani, says
individual efforts and collective commitment at all levels will propel the
Africa region in meeting the Zero Hunger targets of the pan-African 2025 Malabo
Declaration and the 2030 Sustainable Development Goals. 

“As individuals, we have to take concrete
actions to end hunger, poverty and malnutrition,” he said, further adding that
we need to make an effort and consciously get involved in the fight for Zero
Hunger. These commitments will result in an uptick of tangible achievements and
reverse the alarming progression of malnutrition in the region.

Speaking at a panel discussion in Accra on
ways to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030, which is part of this year’s World Food
Day celebration, Tijani advocated to halt the trend on food waste and
post-harvest food losses, and called for an increase in food production to
ensure food security.   

This year’s theme — “Our Actions are Our
Future: a Zero Hunger World by 2030 is Possible,” brought to the fore the need
for collective efforts to meet the global target of eliminating hunger. Over
150 countries around the world observe the World Food Day.

The Assistant Director-General and Regional
Representative for Africa underscored the importance of creating agribusiness
opportunities for the youth as well as encouraging entrepreneurship in all
forms of agricultural commodities, including fisheries, livestock and poultry.

“We have to look at the processes of food
production, add value to the food we eat, which will extend life span, ensure
food security, and stabilize commodity prices,” he noted.
 

He specifically pointed to the need for urgent
action to stem the rising incidence of obesity to reduce its socio-economic
burden on the continent, and stated, “Obesity rates are increasing faster in
Africa than in any other region and this requires critical and urgent action.”

He added: “Currently, eight of the 20
countries in the world with the fastest rising rates of adult obesity are in
Africa, and we have to underline the huge socio-economic costs of obesity, a
risk factor for many non-communicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke,
diabetes and some types of cancer,”.

The panel discussion formed part of the events
to mark the World Food Day in Ghana, with participants from Government
institutions, United Nations agencies, farmer groups and other civil society
organizations.

Numbers of hungry and undernourished people on
the rise

Hunger is on the rise globally and according
to latest estimates, the number of undernourished people in the world increased
again in 2017 for the third consecutive year.

“Last year, 821 million people, representing
11 percent of the world population, suffered from hunger; most of them were
family and subsistence farmers living in poor rural areas of sub-Saharan Africa
and Southeast Asia.”

In 2017, roughly 30 percent of the world’s
hungry were women and about 45 percent of infant deaths stem from
undernutrition. Furthermore, 1.9 billion people are overweight, including 672
million adults suffering from obesity. Data show that 3.4 million overweight
people die each year.

Current global food systems have increased the
availability and accessibility of processed food that is very caloric and
energy-dense, high in fat, sugar and salt, Tijani noted, emphasising on the
need to improve on food systems for people to consume more healthy and
nutritious food.

Collective effort and multisector approach key
to achieving ‘Zero Hunger’ target

“We need to address obesity as a public issue,
not as an individual problem, Tijani said, adding, “This requires the adoption
of a multisector approach involving not only governments, but also
international organizations, national institutions, civil society
organizations, the private sector and citizens in general.”

He further pointed out that there must be a
collective effort towards healthy diets that include, for instance, the
creation of norms such as labelling and the banning of some harmful
ingredients; the introduction of nutrition in the school curriculum; the
adoption of methods to avoid food loss and waste; and the establishment of
trade agreements. These efforts will lead to free access to locally grown,
fresh and nutritious food from family farming.

Zero Hunger is broader and not limited to the
fight against undernourishment. It aims to provide people with the necessary
nutrients for a healthy life. Zero Hunger encompasses the eradication of all
forms of malnutrition. Therefore, it is not just about feeding people but
nourishing people as well.

FAO celebrates World Food Day each year on
October 16 to commemorate the founding of the Organization in 1945. The event
calls for a worldwide awareness and action for those who suffer from hunger, as
well as the need to achieve Zero Hunger, ensure food security and nutritious
diets for all.

GNA

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