In recent years, various factors have diverted the world from eliminating hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition by 2030, and the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this trend. Latin America and the Caribbean are no exception. This edition of the Regional Review of Food Security and Nutrition 2021: Statistics and Trends reveals a bleak scenario for the future. In 2020, 59.7 million people in the region experienced hunger, and between 2019 and 2020, the prevalence of hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean increased by two percentage points. Much of this can be explained by the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced the incomes of millions of people in the region. But this is not behind all the setbacks, as hunger numbers in the region have been increasing for six consecutive years.
Food is fundamental to people’s development throughout their lives. Hunger and poverty impede the enjoyment of basic rights.
In recent years, various factors have diverted the world from eliminating hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition by 2030, as part of the sustainable development agenda. The COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated this trend, and our region is no exception.
This edition of the Regional Review of Food Security and Nutrition 2021: Statistics and Trends reveals a bleak scenario for the region’s future. In 2020, 59.7 million people went hungry. Between 2019 and 2020, the prevalence of hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean increased by two percentage points, which means that 13.8 million people suffer from hunger more than in 2019.
Over the same period, moderate or severe increases in food insecurity were most severe at 9 percentage points. 41 percent of the region’s population suffers from moderate or severe food insecurity, which translates to 267 million people whose human right to food is not being met.
There is no doubt that much of this can be attributed to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, which has reduced the incomes of millions of people in the region. However, the epidemic alone is not responsible for all these setbacks, as regional statistics on hunger have been increasing for six consecutive years.
In the region, one in four adults is obese. Childhood overweight has increased over the past 20 years and is greater than the global average affecting 7.5 percent of children under five in 2020. Overweight and obesity have significant economic, social, and health implications for countries as they lead to lower productivity and increased Disability, premature death, and increased costs of medical care and treatment.
Statistics show that we are going backwards in the fight against hunger. We are back to the levels they were 15 years ago, and we are losing the battle against all forms of malnutrition. Much remains to be done to ensure a healthy diet for the entire population throughout their lives.
If we do not make rapid and substantive changes, countries in the region will fail to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 2: “End hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture” and Goal 3: “Ensure healthy lives and promote well-being for all at all ages.”
We cannot reverse these trends unless we transform our food systems to make them efficient, flexible, inclusive and sustainable enough to provide a healthy diet for all, without leaving anyone behind. That was the aim of the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September 2021, convened by UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres, bringing together 23 member states from Latin America and the Caribbean to discuss how to bring about a transformation that benefits. most vulnerable communities.
The objective of the five United Nations agencies behind this publication is to contribute to the transformation of agri-food systems by measuring and monitoring indicators of food and nutrition security to enhance evidence-based policy formulation and implementation with an agri-food systems approach.
The data and findings in this publication will contribute to the policy dialogue for post-pandemic recovery, which is key to closing equity gaps and achieving the goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development.
Julio A. Berdigy
Regional Representative for Latin America and the Caribbean Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO)
Carissa F Etienne
Director of the Pan American Health Organization (PAHO), Regional Director of the Americas for the World Health Organization (WHO)
Regional Director of the United Nations World Food Program for Latin America and the Caribbean
UNICEF Director for Latin America and the Caribbean
IFAD Regional Director for Latin America and the Caribbean