More than 47.7 million people suffered from hunger in 2019 in Latin America, or 7.4% of the 620 million inhabitants, a finding that is expected to worsen this year due to the consequences of the coronavirus pandemic, according to the FAO.
“The situation has deteriorated over the past five years, with an increase of 13.2 million people suffering from undernourishment,” the main indicator used by the UN Food and Agriculture Agency (FAO ) which on Wednesday presented its annual report for the area in Santiago de Chile where it has its regional headquarters.
Last year, 191 million people were also victims of moderate to severe food insecurity, which means that one in three people in Latin America did not have access to sufficient nutritious food in 2019.
“This upward trend observed over the past five years is part of a context of economic slowdown and decline, increasing poverty, extreme weather events and political conflicts,” said the FAO.
On this basis, the agency estimates that it is unlikely that the region will reach the “Zero hunger” goal it had set for 2030, when this scourge is projected to affect 67 million people.
FAO also warns of the impact that the pandemic will have on economic activity: “a significant increase in hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in the years to come”.
According to UN estimates, in the region, the pandemic will cause the economy to contract 9.1% and more than 83 million people will fall into poverty.
The impact will be preponderant in the poorest and most vulnerable areas, with low levels of education, a strong presence of indigenous populations and greater fragility to climate change, according to the agency.
“Social protection is a key measure to immediately mitigate the socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, by enabling affected households to gradually rebuild their livelihoods and strengthen their capacities for economic and social inclusion”, adds the document.
The coronavirus has killed some 450,000 people in Latin America and infected more than 13 million, according to a report in early December.
In addition, the report warns against territorial inequalities and malnutrition.
Childhood overweight also continues to increase among children under five, affecting 7.5% of the child population in 2019, above the global average (5.6%).