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Global Hunger Index 2016: Six takes on ending hunger

At the launch of a major report on global hunger, experts from around the world revealed what's needed to win the battle against malnutrition.

The harvest of Lillian Shachinda, a farmer in Zambia supported by Concern. Credit: Gareth Bentley/Concern Worldwide

Last Wednesday, Concern Worldwide launched the 2016 Global Hunger Index at the Royal Institution in London. The theme of the report is Getting to Zero Hunger. Eliminating malnutrition by 2030 is a key part of the Sustainable Development Goals, set at the UN in 2015. It is also at the heart of Concern’s work.

But hunger is linked to a wide range of challenges, so it won’t be defeated by nutrition experts alone. That’s why our launch event last week featured a variety of fantastic speakers from different sectors linked to the global hunger issue. They included researchers and on-the-ground aid workers – as well as experts in water, healthcare, climate change and more. Here’s what they had to say. The Concern Global Hunger Index 2016 London launch. Royal Institution, 12/10/16. Credit: Ben Axtell/Concern Worldwide

Felix Phiri, Director of Nutrition, Department of Health, Malawi

  • The Malawi Government has revised its nutrition policy to be in line with the Sustainable Development Goals, and the country is looking at the wider issues surrounding hunger as it tackles the problem.
  • In its bid to end hunger, the government will focus on: preventing undernutrition, gender equality, treating people with of acute malnutrition, preventing obesity and similar conditions, nutrition education, nutrition in emergencies, and measuring progress.
  • To get to zero hunger, the government and others will have to tackle climate change, empower women and communities, invest in nutrition research, engage young people and cut food loss. 

“Multi-sectoral collaboration is at the centre of the whole nutrition response at national, district and sub-district level.”

Margaret Batty, Policy and Campaigns Director, WaterAid

  • To end hunger by 2030, people and organisations from different sectors must work better together. Food alone will not end hunger.
  • Tackling the issues behind hunger and malnutrition, such as dirty water and poor hygiene and sanitation, could cut stunting – a nutrition problem that leaves people physically and mentally underdeveloped – by  80 per cent.
  • Political will and creating development policies that connect different sectors are crucial to ending hunger, forever, and ensuring we leave no one behind.

“The Sustainable Development Goals are like the sides of a Rubiks cube; they have to all work together if we are going to achieve them.”

Sam Bickersteth, Chief Executive Officer, Climate Development Knowledge Network

  • Action on global hunger and climate change go hand in hand – climate change will make it harder for people to get food and escape poverty.
  • We have to shift our global diets and eat less meat. Slowing deforestation carried out to clear land for livestock will have a bigger impact on the environment than anything else.
  • Some solutions include carbon capture technology, making sure environmental safeguards are in place, and ensuring everyone involved the food supply chain is thinking about ending global hunger.

“We live in a grossly inefficient agriculture system where a third of global emissions come from agriculture.”

The Concern Global Hunger Index 2016 London launch. Royal Institution, 12/10/16. Credit: Ben Axtell/Concern Worldwide

Claver Kabuhungu, Programme Coordinator, Concern Worldwide Burundi

  • Burundi has worrying levels of hunger and malnutrition: Stunting in children under five years of age is 57.5 per cent, wasting is 6.1 per cent, and 29.1 per cent are underweight.
  •  Small-scale farming is the main source of food and income for nearly 90 per cent of the population. 
  • The Ministry of Agriculture has a series of plans to improve agricultural production and reaching zero hunger, such as moving from small-scale to commercial farming and increasing seed and fertilizer subsidies.

“To reach zero hunger faster, Concern will continue to target the extreme poor and address the underlying determinants of extreme poverty.”

Rachel Slater, Research Fellow, Overseas Development Institute

  • All forms of social protection – from cash to help poor families buy food and other vital goods, to vouchers that give access to fertilisers - help reduce hunger. But investment in these answers is not happening fast enough.
  • All sectors must work together so people have enough to eat. But experts have to get their own specialism right first. They can’t afford to overcomplicate already complicated programmes.
  • Cash transfers, small grants allow families to meet basic needs, work for the poor. In South Africa, children in households getting social protection grants are 3cm taller than children in households that don’t.

“Social protection is only a means to an end – and the end should be zero hunger.”

Jonathan Tench, Scaling Up Nutrition Business Network Manager

  • 300 companies are now part of the SUN Business Network – a partnership of companies working to improve nutrition. 80 percent of these are local businesses committed to improve the nutrition in the world’s poorest countries.
  • In a survey, only 20 percent of multinational companies said they were addressing the Sustainable Development Goal of ending hunger. Development organisations have to engage the private sector to change this.
  • Food fortification can answer consumer demand for traditionally nutrient-poor foods, such as the chapatti in India, by improving their nutrition content.

“UK civil society has an opportunity to influence UK business’ action to contribute to end hunger.”

The Concern Global Hunger Index 2016 London launch. Royal Institution, 12/10/16. Credit: Ben Axtell/Concern Worldwide

We were delighted that some of our brilliant campaigners could attend the event

Our conclusions

The 2016 launch was a success and the messages were clear:

  • There must be better communication and work across sectors.
  • We must leave no one behind in our fight to end hunger.
  • Governments must strengthen their policies to reduce hunger.
  • We must welcome, monitor, and regulate businesses contribution to zero hunger.

Download and read the full report