The world’s nutrition crisis is worsening, according to the 2021 Report on the State of Food Security and Nutrition (SOFI) from the U.N Food and Agriculture Organization. Conflict, violence, and economic shocks, according to the report, are the main drivers of food insecurity and malnutrition, but the COVID-19 pandemic is intensifying situations around the world.

SOFI is annually released and provides the most recent estimates of food insecurity and nutrition in the world. This year’s is the first SOFI report to compile this information since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.

It states that rates of food insecurity, hunger, and malnutrition have increased drastically within the last year. Around one in three people, or 2.37 billion people, did not have access to adequate food in 2020, an increase of around 320 million people in one year.

“We are sadly not on track to achieve zero hunger and that’s the goal that the world agreed upon 6 years ago and the COVID-19 pandemic has made that goal even more challenging,” says Lana Wong, founder of the Shoot Back Project, at the report’s launch event.

While hunger and malnutrition were already on the rise, Valerie Guerini, Assistant Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), notes that the pandemic exacerbated the crisis. “COVID-19 took what was already a bad situation for millions of people and made it worse,” she tells Food Tank. In 2020, the WFP delivered aid to around 115.5 million people in 84 countries. This is the largest number of people to receive aid from the WFP since 2012, when conflict in Syria and droughts in the Sahel region of Africa led to humanitarian crises.

Guerini explains that the onset of the pandemic spurred a series of actions to limit the spread of COVID-19. These measures, including transportation restrictions and limited cargo movements, significantly affected the distribution of food, pushing hunger rates even higher.  “The agricultural sector is still suffering from severe disruptions, making it one of the most impacted by the pandemic,” she says.

Read the full article about rising food insecurity by Morgane Batkai at Food Tank.