Maiden UN Food Systems Summit Proffers Hopes to End Global Hunger

The maiden UN Food Systems Summit sets out to raise awareness on the need for countries of the world to work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food.

Three in every 10 Cameroonians are malnourished according to the World Food Programme – equivalent to 30% of the country’s roughly 26 million inhabitants.

The United States Agency for International Development (USAID) estimates some 2.6 million Cameroonians are experiencing acute food insecurity and thus need food assistance.

The long-running sociopolitical crisis in the North West and South West regions of Cameroon, the activities of the Nigerian-based terror group Boko Haram in the Far North, compounded by seasonal floods, account for the current food insecurity.

Little wonder why Cameroon currently ranks 150 out of 189 in the 2019 Human Development Index.

Nearly 39% of Cameroonians live below the poverty line.

The situation looks even grimmer in some parts of the African continent.

A deadly mix of conflict, COVID-19 and the climate crisis have pushed more than 7.8 million people across six countries in East Africa to the very edge of starvation.

More than 34 million people are threatened by food insecurity according to World Vision, an international nonprofit organization.

But the first-ever Food Systems Summit – one of the many high-level deliberations at the General Assembly – could reverse these countries’ fortunes.

Some world leaders and Heads of Government attending the 76th United Nations General Assembly have been charting the way forward on how to fight poverty and ensure food security in the face of multiple challenges like climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and terrorism.

The event aims at raising awareness on the need for countries of the world to work together to transform the way the world produces, consumes and thinks about food.

“One in three people globally cannot access adequate food and for this reason the US will invest 10 billion dollars to reinforce food systems at home and abroad so as to sustainably feed the world and end hunger,” said Joe Biden, U.S. President in an address during the UN General Assembly in New York. Participants welcomed the gesture as “walking the talk”.

UN Food Systems Summit, a Stitch in Time

The UN Food Systems Summit was announced in 2019 by the Secretary General, Antonio Guterres. The aim was to come to the aid of about 800 million people around the globe said to be in need of food.

Dr. Agnes Kalibata, UN Secretary General’s envoy for the Food Systems Summit said the event couldn’t have been more timely given that 161 million people in Africa are currently experiencing hunger.

She said the African continent is experiencing the highest level of poverty it hasnt witnessed in the past 50 years – all fueled by climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and insecurity.

The President of Rwanda, Paul Kagame, in his capacity as Chairperson of the African Union Development Agency (NEPAD), said the time for Africa to develop strong food systems that respond to the needs of the environment while providing jobs for her 30 million citizens in extreme poverty is now.

He enumerated increased agricultural financing to 10% of government expenditure within the continent; support food supply chains and foster trade among member states; facilitating small holder farmers and womens access to farms while expanding school feeding to fight against malnutrition; as viable options to achieve set goals.

Kagame said support from global partners can lead to the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals(SDGs) for which ending poverty is second.

Prior to the Food Systems Summit, 140 countries hosted national dialogues to develop national plans for more inclusive and sustainable food systems.

The New York Summit galvanized various actors from around the world of science, business, agriculture, education, health care – not leaving out indigenous people and youth organizations, to explore better ways to reinforce food systems globally.

The United Nations Secretary General, Antonio Guterres frowned that the globe is seriously off track to achieving the SDGs by 2030 considering that 14% of food produced yearly is said to be wasted.

“This situation has continued to keep healthy diets out of the reach of some six billion people worldwide with climate change and conflicts as most drivers,” the UN Chief Scribe said.

“Our war against nature includes food systems that contribute 1/3 of all Green Gas Emissions and also accounts for 80% of biodiversity loss, yet there is hope. We need to forge new partnerships, define the scope of our collective ambitions while redoubling our efforts to achieving the 17 SDGs by transforming our food systems,” he said.

Emmanuella Wvemnyuy

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