The conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues to profoundly impact economies worldwide, with rising food prices and high supply chain shortages exacerbating global hunger. Africa is feeling the heaviest effects. Ukraine is one of the largest producers of wheat. Russia’s introduction of a naval blockade and attacks on the country’s energy grid resulted in a reduction in wheat exports from 5 to 7 million tons per month before the war to 3.5 million tons per month between March and November 2022. More than 345 million people are feeling the impact of the global food crisis, according to the World Food Programme (WFP). The International Monetary Fund (IMF) highlights that more than 48 countries that the global food crisis affected will require more than $4.1 billion in aid in 2023. However, there are initiatives and methods to help alleviate and provide solutions to address world hunger.
United Nations Year of Millets
The initiative began in 2021, a year before Russia invaded Ukraine, which caused an unprecedented global food crisis. Before expanding on the goals and outcomes the initiative hopes to achieve, it is essential to discuss what millets are and what are the ways to address world hunger in 2023. Millets are grains that come from small seed grasses and many around the world grow them in abundance. People have been consuming millet for more than 7,000 years and they are important in terms of contributing to multi-crop agriculture and establishing farming societies.
Developing countries like India, Niger and Nigeria (more than 97%) heavily produce millet and they continue to be a stable form of the crop in these regions today, Impakter reports. This is because millet can survive droughts and other environmental challenges, making it a sustainable form of nutrition. Furthermore, the efforts required to grow the crops are minimal as they are highly adaptable in the soils they grow in, be they poor or fertile. As a source of nutrition, millets have high protein, minerals, fiber and iron and are gluten-free. Therefore, these grains are an excellent source to help countries “increase self-sufficiency and reduce reliance on imported cereal grains,” according to Impakter.
Karnataka, India officially adopted the United Nations Year of Millets. Millet grows in abundance there and India spearheads the initiative. The primary objective of Year of Millets consists of generating international awareness of millets which will ultimately result in a solution to the global food crisis because millets not only have the ability to grow in adverse environments and are sources of high nutrition but they also are sources of new sustainable market opportunities. The greater generation of international awareness of millet could solve world hunger in 2023 or be a step towards solving world hunger.
Immediate International Action
Another one of the ways to address world hunger is through more significant international involvement and efforts to help generate a financial cushion to support initiatives that tackle the food crisis and ensure that there are alternatives in place to ensure food security. Organizations like WFP and the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) also require adequate global funding to operate efficiently to help address world hunger and generate awareness regarding the consequences of food insecurity. Furthermore, organizations that conduct their programs in countries experiencing extreme food insecurity require a stable source of funding from donors and international organizations through grants and concessional financing to operate programs such as cash assistance programs for people that the global food crisis affected.
A way to address world hunger in 2023 is through a calculated and organized approach which people can achieve through international awareness and engagement to ensure maximized efficiency of the efforts and effective use of the resources to help address the global food crisis.
In addition, the IMF mentions that even with international support, more significant efforts are necessary to help address the global food crisis and hopefully address world hunger. This means aiming financing at the most vulnerable sections of populations suffering from the food crisis. The funding should come through humanitarian aid, grants and long-term concessional financing, according to IMF Notes. Furthermore, the IMF views debt financing as an exemplary method for addressing the food crisis. It will ensure that people can use the funds to spend on food and other necessities.
Nutrition the Way to Save Lives
According to the WFP’s Global Operational Response Plan, “prioritizing the nutrition of pregnant and breastfeeding women and children under 5 is key to saving lives and building resilient communities and economies.” This is because, statistically, the global food crisis is one of the most significant threats to children under 5, constituting one-fifth of children out of 60 million. In addition, children under 5 who suffer from acute and chronic malnutrition are at greater risk of death.
The WFP’s approach to addressing global food takes a targeted approach that can provide fruitful results in addressing world hunger in 2023. Therefore, the World Food Programme highlights that one of the ways to address world hunger in 2023 is the prioritization of nutrition for women and children under the age of 5 suffering from global food insecurity because access to nutritious diets is scarce.
To achieve this, Specialized Nutritious Foods (SNFs) are necessary in ensuring the proper nourishment of women and children. SNFs “help prevent and treat malnutrition and reduce mortality among children and pregnant and breastfeeding women by improving nutrient adequacy, strengthening immune systems and enabling proper weight gain.” Despite the high demand and prices for SNFs because of the war in Ukraine, the World Food Programme continues to tackle food insecurity and malnutrition at its core.
Addressing world hunger in 2023 along with rising inflation and greater demand for food appears complicated due to the disruption of global supply chains due to the war in Ukraine, as well as the COVID-19 pandemic and environmental challenges. However, greater international cooperation between nonprofit organizations like the WFP, the IMF and the United Nations, alongside their partners and the international community, will make it possible to address world hunger in 2023.
– Arijit Joshi