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Climate change could lead to a rise in the already 'alarming' levels of world hunger

The number of people who are undernourished worldwide has risen to 822 million in 2018.

The 14th Global Hunger Index report was released today.
The 14th Global Hunger Index report was released today.
Image: Shutterstock/StanislauV

47 COUNTRIES AROUND the world currently have serious or alarming levels of hunger, according to the 2019 Global Hunger Index (GHI). 

There has been a global reduction in hunger since 2000, but this could be impacted in the future by the effects of climate change on food production, temperature levels and access to food for those with low-income levels. 

The 14th GHI report was published today by Irish aid agency Concern Worldwide and German non-profit Welthungerhilfe. 

Of the 117 countries given GHI scores, 47 countries showed serious or alarming levels of hunger.

The countries with the highest levels of hunger are the Central African Republic, Yemen, Chad, Madagascar and Zambia. 

The scores in the report are based on child undernourishment, wasting (number of children under five who are underweight for their height), stunting and mortality rates.  

hunger index Green indicates low levels of hunger, red is extremely alarming, orange is alarming and peach shows serious hunger levels. Source: Global Hunger Index report

The overall global score for hunger levels was 20 this year, a decrease from a score of 29 in 2000. A score of zero indicates no hunger and 100 shows the highest hunger levels. 

However, the number of people worldwide who are undernourished rose from 785 milion in 2015 to 822 million in 2018. 

Nine countries have worse levels of hunger now than in 2010 – the Central African Republic (CAR), Madagascar, Venezuela, Yemen, Jordan, Malaysia, Mauritania, Lebanon and Oman. 

Concern Worldwide CEO Dominic MacSorley said that conflict, inequality and the effects of climate change have contributed to “persistently high” levels of hunger and food insecurity worldwide. 

Former President of Ireland Mary Robinson said the report showed a “timely illustration” of how climate change can jeopardise a person’s right to adequate and sufficient food.

“That is the greatest injustice of climate change—that those who bear the least responsibility for climate change are the ones who will suffer the most,” Robinson wrote in the opening to the report. 

“Climate change is an issue not only of environmental conservation, but also of justice and human rights.”

Future challenges

Higher average temperatures, heavy precipitation and more drought in certain places are additional challenges outlined that will likely occur as a result of climate change. 

Extreme climate events, violent conflicts and economic slowdowns have continued to drive hunger in many parts of the world, according to the report. 

The report also says that extreme weather-related disasters have doubled since the early 1990s and these have “disproportionately harmed” people with a low income and their access to food. 

The GHI recommended certain policy changes including further investment in small-scale farmers to improve food security, focusing more on disaster prevention and changing food consumption and production patterns, especially for those in high-income countries. 

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