Food is one of the most cited in the international document on fundamental human rights and ironically the most violated where the daily per capita food consumption between 1980 and 1998 in 48 least developed countries declined and that of the developing countries actually improved.
Africa has not been able to feed itself since 1970s and may be unable to do so soon. Agriculture is undoubtedly the largest components of the rural economy in most sub-Sahara African countries. The production on the other hand has depended largely on the family needs and available resources mostly manpower because the production to a large extent still depend on crude means and has been largely subsistence in nature even in the presence of technologically advanced alternative methods. This is so because agriculture has not been fully considered as a big enterprise capable of generating employments in addition to assist in developing the economies of the affected countries. This is an indictment on the path of stakeholders including local, regional, NGOs, international development agencies among others that have one or two things to do with the food security of people.
In many or most African countries, food security at both national and household levels is still not encouraging. The per capita growth rate in food production in some of these countries is still far lesser than corresponding growth in population which is not enough to meet the rising demand for food at household level leaving many undernourished thus creating an embarrassing gap between food supply and demand.
Therefore, to address the challenges of food insecurity the SDGs were formulated to address the deficiencies noticed in the Millennium Development Goals which failed to achieve its stated objectives.
Goal 2 is one of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals to be achieved by 2030. The Zero Hunger (SDG2) of the United Nations has five (5) as follows:
End hunger and ensure access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food,
End all forms of malnutrition,
Double the productivity and incomes of small-scale food producers,
Ensure sustainable food production systems and implement resilient agricultural practices,
Maintain the genetic diversity of seeds, plants and animals.
The Zero Hunger target is to be achieved through three main mechanisms:
Increase investment through enhanced international cooperation,
Correct and prevent trade restrictions and distortions in world agricultural markets
Adopt measures to ensure the proper functioning of food commodity markets and their derivatives and facilitate timely access to market information.
Importance of Zero Hunger
Zero Hunger pledges to end hunger, achieve food security, improve nutrition, and encourage agricultural sustainability by 2030. Extreme hunger and malnutrition remain as barriers to sustainable development and create trap to vulnerable people across the world. Hunger and malnutrition result to less productivity among individuals who are more prone to disease and thus often unable to earn more and improve their livelihoods. Without ending hunger and malnutrition by sustainable and resilient, climate compatible agriculture and food systems, SDGs cannot be achieved. Therefore, a world with zero hunger is capable of impacting the economies, health, education, equality and social development in the world positively.
Zero Hunger is key to building a better future for everyone. It requires a multi-dimensional approach from social protection to provision of safe and nutritious food particularly for children through transformation of food systems that will guarantee a more inclusive and sustainable world where people irrespective of their age, race and other demographic features have access to safe, nutritious and healthy food in right quantity and quality.
The state of food insecurity in the world indicated that over 688 million individuals were in dire need of food by end of 2016 from 150 countries identified with severe food insecurity issues. Hunger as we all know limits human developments since it is a key ingredient for achieving other SDGs such as education, health and gender equality. The number of undernourished people has dropped by almost half in the past two decades because of rapid economic growth and increased agricultural productivity in response to growth in population.
Currently, the world faces a new wave of challenges that jeopardize reaching zero hunger target in the world by 2030 not only to the current generation but also to future generations which is the outbreak of the Corona Virus (COVID-19) and also the current Ukrainian war. COVID-19 pandemic has aggravated the worse problems of vulnerability and inadequacy of food system in the world. The unprecedented consequences of this pandemic in health, economic and social well- being threatened the livelihood of many people in the world, making the progress toward the achievement of SDG zero-hunger goals more challenging. The pandemic coupled with other challenges like conflict and climate shocks, poses an additional threat to food systems which is capable of making more millions to slide into food insecurity thereby posing another challenge to ending hunger in the world by 2030 as targeted by SDGs. Even though, no area has been spared of the consequences of the novel Corona Virus, the intensity has been more pronounced in developing countries especially among the vulnerable groups including the elderly, children, people with disabilities, migrants and refugees. Therefore, the goal of eradicating hunger in the world remains a challenge especially in the wake of the COVID-19 crisis. During the pandemic process, production and distribution in the food sector has been disrupted all over the world and food insecurity has increased as the purchasing power of individuals has decreased. Extreme hunger and malnutrition remain one of the huge barriers to development in many countries particularly developing ones. Current estimates indicate that nearly 690 million people are living with hunger. This means that 8.9 % of the world population is hungry (up by 10 million people in one year and by nearly 60 million in five years). Majority of the world’s undernourished which are estimated at 381 Million are found in Asia while more than 250 Million live in Africa where the number of undernourished is growing faster than anywhere in the world.
According to the United Nations, about 975 Million people suffer from hunger in the world and half of these people are small scale farmers who are in rural areas and hungry people are also found in urban areas. There are also hungry people living in urban areas. This means that more than one in nine of the world population do not get the privilege to eat enough in right quality and quantity. One in every three of the world population experience undernourishment. The undernourishment and severe food insecurity appear to be increasing in almost all regions of Africa, as well as in Southern America. Over 90 million children under five are dangerously underweight with about 2 billion people in the world do not have regular access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food.
Nearly 750 million (one in every ten people in the world) are exposed to severe levels of food insecurity. Furthermore, 144 million children under the age of 5 were stunted with three quarters living in Southern Asia and sub-Saharan Africa and another 47 million children under 5 are affected by wasting or acute undernutrition due to the limited nutrient intake and infection.
The extent to which the current events of the Ukrainian war are having an impact on world hunger can only be surmised so far. Since the beginning of an additional war, millions of people have fled their homes and some of them are receiving emergency aid.
But the war between Russia and Ukraine also has global consequences and is plunging the world into a food crisis that is degenerating into a humanitarian catastrophe. Delivery stops, delays and rising food prices of staple foods such as cooking oil, sugar or wheat, which come from Russia, are affecting hunger poverty, especially in African shortage areas, which have been buying products from the East for years.
The quest for achievement of SDG 2 (Zero Hunger) is on course and should be supported by relevant stakeholders to ensure the targets are met. This could be achieved by mitigating the threats posed by the pandemic to vulnerable population. All countries particularly the developing ones need to take immediate actions to strengthen food supply chains and increase food production to meet increasing demand due to growing population. The stakeholders must be firm in their commitment and should not allow the pandemic and other threats deter them from achieving the set targets. Consequently, the number of people going hungry and suffering from food insecurity had been gradually rising since 2014. An estimated 25.9 % of the world populations were affected by moderate or severe food insecurity in 2019, an increase from 22.4% in 2015. The fastest rise in Latin America and the Caribbean, although the highest levels were in sub-Saharan Africa. The situation is likely to deteriorate even further due to the COVID-19 and certain circumstances.
During the pandemic, the economy and food supply chain have been disrupted, resulting in more malnutrition in the world. People are experiencing a drop in their income; there is less food available in the market, and prices have risen. Disruptions occurred in agriculture and food production. Due to inadequate nutrition, women of reproductive age are suffering from anemia, which is worrying experts about the health of future babies and their mothers. Also, unhealthy food and a lack of physical activity contribute to childhood and adult obesity.
 Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The future of food and agriculture. Trends and challenges. 2017
 United Nations. Food Systems Summit 2021: https://www.un.org/en/food-systems-summit/news/2021-going-be-bad-year-world-hunger
 Vereinte Nationen. Ziele für nachhaltige Entwicklung. Bericht 2021
 Human Development Report 2020