SEATTLE — At The World Food Summit in 1996, governments around the world agreed to reduce the number of chronically undernourished people by half by the year 2015.
Results of this progress has been patchy, with some nations being able to meet this target in time, while others struggle to gain an equal footing. However, the number of people suffering from hunger has declined significantly in the last 20 years and many are making the slow climb out of poverty, aided by social and economic policies aimed at food security and hunger.
Fortunately, there are nations in Latin America and the Caribbean that have successfully completed the WFS and MDG goals. Countries including Guyana, Cuba, Barbados, Chile, Mexico and the Grenadines have achieved reducing the total number of hungry and undernourished to less than half, according to the FAO report, Panorama of Food and Nutritional Insecurity in Latin America and the Caribbean 2015. The number of individuals currently suffering from undernourishment in the LAC region is 5.5 percent, down 9.2 percent from the rate of 14.7 in 1990. Also, the region has reduced the number of people suffering from hunger to 34.3 million.
The report also details how the LAC region was able to reach these goals, even though economic poverty has risen in the last two years and inequality remains a prevalent barrier to the people’s access to food.
The FAO said, “The defining characteristic of the region’s 25-year success story is the political commitment at the highest level. This has allowed the countries of Latin America and the Caribbean to maintain the fight against hunger, while a context of macroeconomic and political stability have sustained this process.”
Countries in the LAC region have created policies that focus on eliminating hunger and malnutrition at the root causes, like agriculture sustainability, access to food and diet diversity. By addressing the root causes of hunger, the systemic relationship between hunger and poverty can be reduced. Policies such as Brazil Without Misery and Mexico’s National Crusade Against Hunger are those that have contributed to the region’s success.
Yet, despite making these considerable achievements, there are still issues needing to be addressed before the LAC can be successful completely eradicating hunger and malnutrition. The most significant of these being inequality for women and indigenous groups, inflation in food prices, the growing rates of obesity and development gaps among some countries. According to the report, Haiti is the country that has seen little to no progress, which is where 75 percent of the Caribbean’s undernourished live.
The report said, “Hunger still affects over 34 million people, which requires greater efforts to achieve hunger eradication during the current generation.”
It also said, “Latin America and the Caribbean must not only face hunger but rising obesity and overweight. The ‘double burden of malnutrition’ is a phenomenon that requires governments to apply the lessons they have learned in their efforts to strive towards zero hunger.”
In the hopes of achieving total eradication of hunger in the LAC region the Community of Latin America and Caribbean countries (CELAC), the interregional decision-making body of the LAC, created the Plan for Food Security, Nutrition and Hunger Eradication, to eliminate hunger by 2025. This includes the further implementation of the CELAC’s Hunger Free Latin America and Caribbean Initiative, created in 2005. It emphasizes the need for food security for people in the region as well as recognizing its position as a major food supplier to the rest of the world.
Raul Benitez, regional representative for Latin America and the Caribbean’s FAO, said “Latin America and the Caribbean pioneered the proposal of eradicating hunger by 2025… Ensuring that no man, woman, girl or boy is affected by undernourishment requires additional efforts and continued commitment to food and nutrition security in the upcoming agenda of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).”
– Candice Hughes
Sources: Food and Agricultural Organization 1, Food and Agricultural Organization 2, Food and Agricultural Organization 3, Hunger Free Latin America and the Caribbean Initiative, Inter Press Service, Jamaica Observer