The burden of malnutrition in all its forms is shifting from rural areas to cities

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Food and nutrition are moving to the city

For too long, we have traded off calories for nutrition in our quest to end world hunger. While the numbers of people with caloric deficits is falling, the number with micronutrient deficiencies is stubbornly high – an estimated 2 billion people – and the number suffering from over-nutrition is rising distressingly fast.

The impact of these nutrition challenges on people’s quality of life and their productivity is devastating, and the impact on public sector budgets will continue to increase unless we find a way to achieve food security and improve nutrition. Sustainable Development Goal 2 — End hunger, achieve food security and improved nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture — requires no less. That will be challenging enough.

In addition, for too long, most efforts by the agricultural development community to reduce hunger have only focused on rural areas. But already 50% of the world’s population lives in urban areas and by 2050, more than two-thirds of those people are going to be in cities. This poses a new set of challenges.

The Global Food Policy Report 2017, published today by the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), one of our CGIAR research partners, makes that clear.

James Garrett, Bioversity International Senior Research Fellow who contributed to the book, explains that one in three stunted children now lives in a city. That proportion is likely to increase. In addition, overweight and obesity are also concentrated in urban areas. As the report notes, the burden of malnutrition in all its forms is shifting from rural areas to cities, and so we need to ensure that our efforts now and in the future respond to this new reality.

Read the full article: Bioversity International

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Published by

Willem Van Cotthem

Honorary Professor of Botany, University of Ghent (Belgium). Scientific Consultant for Desertification and Sustainable Development.