High rates of violence, population growth and lack of land offer reason for fears of a ‘lost generation’ in region
Hunger in Latin America and the Caribbean is at its highest point in two decades, the UN says
The world’s hungry have risen by 60m since 1990
The number of hungry people in Latin America and the Caribbean has risen by 60 million since 1990 and stands at its highest level in two decades, according to a UN report published on Friday.
Food insecurity in the region has risen as millions of people have been affected by violence, population growth and climate change.
The report warns that hungry families in Brazil, Cuba, Costa Rica, Nicaragua, Ecuador, El Salvador, Haiti, and Honduras are coping with particular difficulty given that they are fleeing violent conflicts and climate-induced disasters, respectively.
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“If population growth is taken into account, there has been a rise of roughly seven million people who are food insecure and vulnerable, or at risk of falling below the threshold for hunger,” the report’s authors wrote.
“As a result, as much as 60 million more people are now food insecure today than in 1990.”
This contrasts sharply with the situation a decade ago, when the number of hungry people in the region fell by 35 million, according to the report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the UN’s refugee agency, UNHCR.
In 2016, it said that more than one billion people faced hunger.
The FAO report pointed to growing malnutrition in the region and the region’s rural population as reasons for the rising hunger rates.
Argentina, Bolivia, Brazil, Chile, Colombia, Mexico, and Peru – who account for over half of the hungry population – saw the proportion of underweight children double between 1990 and 2016, the report said.
Latin America and the Caribbean was the only region in the world where the number of underweight children grew over that period, reaching a record high in 2017 of 7.9 million, the report said.
The authors warned that some of the increase had to be linked to a better description of food insecurity in the region, which improved in 2016 with 86 countries recording a proportion of people considered food insecure, compared with 61 a decade earlier.
But it said such reports did not fully convey the extent of the problem and the extent of the impact of hunger.
“The statistics cited in these reports do not, by themselves, tell the full story: hunger is defined differently by different agencies and statistics institutions. A rapidly expanding and increasingly diverse network of indicators, all measuring different things, tends to create mixed results,” the report said.