Highlighting that the number of people going hungry across the world has increased since 2015, threatening to undo years of progress, the head of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) today called for translating commitments into action at the national level.

“Hunger will only be defeated if countries translate their pledges into action, especially at national and local levels,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said at the opening of the agency’s biennial conference in Rome. Concerted effort is required in countries affected by conflict and climate change – which collectively house nearly 60 per cent of the world’s population suffering from hunger – he underscored. “Peace is of course the key to ending these crises, but we cannot wait for peace to take action [...] it is extremely important to ensure that these people have the conditions to continue producing their own food.”

FAO has currently identified 19 countries in a “protracted crisis” situation, often facing extreme climatic events, such as droughts and floods. It has also signalled the high risk of famine in north-east Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen with 20 million people severely affected.

These extreme conditions not only disrupt the lives of those affected, they also force many to migrate in search of better lives, compounding the distress. The most vulnerable – especially women – are often the worst impacted.

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