Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean is at its highest point since 2000, after a 30 percent increase in the number of people suffering hunger from 2019 to 2020, says a new UN report.
According to the 2021 Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition, in just one year, and in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people living with hunger increased by 13.8 million, reaching a total of 59.7 million people. The prevalence of hunger in Latin America now stands at 9.1 percent, the highest it has been in the last 15 years, although slightly below the world average of 9.9 percent. Just between 2019 and 2020, the prevalence of hunger increased by 2 percentage points.
“We must say it loud and clear: Latin America and the Caribbean is facing a critical situation in terms of food security. There has been an almost 79 percent hike in the number of people living in hunger from 2014 to 2020”, said Julio Berdegue, the regional representative of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
“Although the pandemic has exacerbated the situation, hunger has been on the rise since 2014. We must fix deep vulnerabilities in our food systems, make them more inclusive and sustainable and ensure they deliver wellbeing for the people that feed our societies,” said Rossana Polastri, the director for Latin America of the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).
Between 2019 and 2020, Mesoamerica experienced the largest increase––2.5 percentage points––reaching its highest value in the last 20 years: 10.6 percent, or 19 million people. The overall highest prevalence occurs in the Caribbean (16.1 percent, 7 million people) while in South America hunger affects 33,7 million people, or 7.8 percent of the population.
In Latin America, the prevalence of severe food insecurity –that is people who had run out of food or had gone a day or more without eating– reached 14 percent in 2020, a total of 92.8 million people, up from 47.6 million people in 2014. Food insecurity, however, did not affect men and women equally: in 2020, 41.8 percent of women in the region experienced moderate or severe food security, compared with 32.2 percent of men. This disparity has been rising in the last 6 years and it increased sharply from 6.4 percent in 2019 to 9.6 percent in 2020.
The 2021 Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition is a joint publication of the FAO, the IFAD, Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization, World Food Program and United Nations Children’s Fund.