The countries of Latin America and the Caribbean have managed to make progress in combating hunger and food insecurity in recent years, mainly due to the improvement in rates in South America.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the hunger rate rose from 7% in 2021 to 6.5% in 2022, which represents, in absolute numbers, that 43.2 million people were in this situation. Despite the decline, the rate was still 0.9% above that recorded in 2019, the year immediately before the covid-19 pandemic. Among the world population, the rate remained stable at 9.2%.
The data is part of the Regional Panorama of Food Security and Nutrition in Latin America and the Caribbean 2023prepared by five agencies of the United Nations (UN) system.
The document was released today (9) and details how geopolitical factors, such as the war in Ukraine, the Covid-19 health crisis and the climate crisis affect the numbers.
The evolution of indices in the South American region was observed between 2021 and 2022, although, at the same time, in Mesoamerica – which includes Belize, Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua and Panama, as well as portions of Mexico –, the proportion of the population that still lives with moderate or severe hunger or food insecurity has increased.
Last year, 247.8 million people in the region constituted the portion with moderate or severe food insecurity, a total reduced by 16.5 million, compared to that recorded in 2021. The projection for 2022 indicates that, of the group living in this condition, 159 million people are from South America, 61.9 million from Central America and 26.9 million from the Caribbean.
“The region’s persistent inequalities have a significant impact on the food security of the most vulnerable. The prevalence of moderate or severe food insecurity continues to affect women more than men”, highlight the UN agencies in the report.
According to the experts who compiled the data and prepared the document, the proportion of the population experiencing malnutrition fell in a decade both in Brazil, Latin America and the world, but at different rates.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, the percentage went from 10.7% in the period from 2000 to 2002, to 6.7%, from 2020 to 2022. In Brazil, the variation went from 10.7% to 4.7%, in the same period. In global terms, the index fell from 12.9% to 9.2%. The calculation of data for 2020-2022 are UN projections.
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Regarding the characterization of the portion with severe food insecurity, the first data from the analysis date from 2014 to 2016. In this case, in the world, what was observed was an increase in the percentage: from 7.8% in the oldest biennium, to 11 .3% in 2020-2022. In Latin America and the Caribbean, the variation went from 7.9% to 13%, while in Brazil, it went from 1.9% to 9.9%.
Another relevant fact contained in the report concerns the impact of the lack of access to adequate food on children’s lives. In all geographic areas, there was a reduction in the stunting rate of children under 5 years of age, when comparing data from 2000 and 2022.
Worldwide, the percentage fell from 33% to 22.3%. In Latin America and the Caribbean, it went from 17.8% in 2000 to 11.5% in 2022. In Brazil, the percentage went from 9.8% to 7.2%, on the same basis of comparison.