UN Chief warns world hunger on the rise
United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres, has warned that hunger is on the rise the world over with Africa registering the highest rates. He was speaking during an event organized on the margins of the African Union Summit under the theme “Renewed Partnership to End Hunger in African by 2025 – Five Years Later: Taking Stock of Progress and Lessons in Light of the Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Secretary General said agricultural and livestock productivity in Africa was under threat largely due to conflict and climate change. He added, “climatic shocks, environmental degradation, crop and livestock price collapse and conflict are all interlinked”.
Against this backdrop, Mr. Guterres urged governments to adopt national agricultural policies and investment plans that focus not only on agricultural sector development but on poverty, hunger, and resilience to climate change.
“Climate change adaptation should be promoted as an integral part of conflict prevention, with special attention to sustainable agriculture and pastoralist and semi-pastoralist livelihoods. It is important to highlight that the majority of undernourished people in Africa live in countries affected by conflict,” he said.
The UN Chief stated that sustainable and inclusive agricultural growth was vital to achieve both SDG1 on poverty and SDG2 on hunger and that it also influences many other goals.
In the same light, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said, “Hunger-fighting initiatives in Africa need to be deepened and broadened to put the continent back on track to eliminating the scourge of undernutrition.”
“Achieving zero hunger in our lifetime is still possible,” he added, noting however that this will require a redoubling of current efforts and a push for political commitment and timely concrete actions.
In his remarks, Ethiopian Prime Minister, Hailemariam Desalegn, said his government has made significant progress in fighting hunger. The P.M. stated, among other things, that; “In recent years we have managed to overcome food security challenges by increasing our domestic purchasing power” and that their use of “indigenous approaches” will continue until goal of zero hunger is achieved.
The event was jointly organized by Ethiopia’s Ministry of Agriculture and the African Union Commission, with support from FAO and the ECA. Other participants included President Alpha Condé of Guinea; former heads of state; African Ministers of Agriculture; leaders of civil society organizations and the private sector.