GENEVA, March 10 (IPS) – The war in Ukraine was a disaster for that country and for the world. In any crisis, it is the most vulnerable and will be affected the most, and this time is no different.
Women, children and the elderly in Ukraine are suffering terribly in this country, with many fleeing the conflict for asylum. Tragically, women, children and the elderly in many other parts of the world will also experience the effects of war.
This is because one crisis overlaps with two others. Before the war, the most vulnerable were pushed to the limit by COVID-19 and climate change. This leads to an unprecedented annual increase in hunger and malnutrition.
The current crisis will make things significantly worse, evidently not only within Ukraine, but also outside it, because Ukraine is a major exporter of wheat, corn and sunflowers and because Russia is the main exporter of oil and gas.
The loss of food production and exports from Ukraine (and to some extent Russia) will push up world food prices due to insufficient supply and demand. High energy prices due to loss of production and trade and imposed sanctions will have the same effect, making food production, distribution and preparation more expensive.
Higher food and fuel prices will reduce people’s income for other essential needs such as clean water, sanitation and healthcare. Before the war, food prices were at their highest level since 1975. Now, they will go even higher.
If we don’t act, the number of people suffering from hunger could increase to one billion and the number of people at risk of malnutrition could increase to half of the world’s population. We must now seriously reflect on the dire prospect of hunger in many parts of the world. Definitive action is needed, but what?
First, obviously, let’s end the war, so that the immediate sufferings of the Ukrainian people can begin to be resolved. This will also allow Ukrainian farmers to return to their fields in the next month or two for the growing season and it will allow the rest of us to support them. It will also allow supply chains critical to food to begin to rebuild.
Second, keep the food trade flowing. Exporting countries must resist the temptation to “beg your neighbor” by hoarding exports, which simply leads to a race to the bottom for all.
Third, diversify the sites of food production around the world: the war has shown the fragility of depending on a few bread: it takes a lot. For example, Africa has great agricultural potential, but the policy goals and agricultural investment in Malabo that the government has set for itself have not been met.
Fourth, the amount of development finance abroad to end hunger needs to be doubled: public and private. We never knew too much about where and what to invest in to bring the number of hunger numbers down from 768 million today to less than 200 million by 2030. We knew what to do, now we need to fund it.
The G7 hosted by the German government is a great opportunity to fulfill those commitments.
Ultimately, we need more money for humanitarian relief from hunger and malnutrition. Increased funding requests from the World Food Program and other programs must be responded to quickly. But we also need more relief from the money we already have: humanitarian aid needs to do more to provide not only food, but safe and nutritious food that contains the micronutrients needed by human health. human development.
Most importantly, we must defend the nutritional status of our youngest and deny the Ukraine war is a terrible intergenerational legacy.
The Global Alliance for Nutrition Improvement (GAIN) is a Switzerland-based organization founded at the United Nations in 2002 to address the human suffering caused by malnutrition. Working with both the public and the private sector, GAIN aims to provide nutritious food to those most at risk of malnutrition. www.gainhealth.org
© Inter Press Service (2022) – All rights reservedOrigin: Inter Press Service