“Creating a world free of hunger” UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 2, is an ambitious goal that seems more and more out of reach as we commemorate this year’s World Hunger Day.
Despite hopes that the world would emerge from the pandemic in 2021 and food security would improve, hunger has been on the rise. A staggering 2.3 billion people – almost every third person – did not have enough to eat on a regular basis in 2021. From 2017 to 2021 the number of malnourished people climbed from 7,6% to 9,8% or 828 million people.
The main reasons for this hunger are conflicts and civil wars that have existed for years, such as in the region around Syria and Yemen. Russia’s war of aggression against Ukraine has also severely impacted the global food supply such that the world’s biggest food crisis since World War II is looming to date.
In addition, we are witnessing recurrent natural disasters like the hurricane season in the Caribbean, droughts at the Horn of Africa and earthquakes in Syria and Turkey. The Corona crisis has exacerbated the situation. Supply chains were disrupted, income opportunities were lost, and many farmers were no longer able to produce enough food. Especially among children, all forms of malnutrition have been exacerbated by the pandemic.
It is very clear that public and private donor funding from developed countries will not be enough to feed 2.3 billion people every day. Local initiatives and capacities are crucial to ensure that everyone has enough to eat.
Local church congregations are in a unique position to respond instantaneously, providing first aid in food, water and shelter in their church facilities and houses in the first hours after a disaster has hit before even any organisation from outside can help. It is also a wonderful testimony Christ’s love to the victims and people in need and this can give hope to many in dire need and despair. During the recent earthquake in Turkey and Syria, WEA coordinated with both the European Evangelical Alliance as well as the Middle East and Northern Africa Alliance to receive support for victims of the earthquake.
As a global network, WEA will continue to work together with our member alliances, Christian organisations and local churches to prepare churches in disaster-prone areas and to provide food for our hungry neighbours next door.