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ANTANANARIVO, Madagascar: The World Food Programme (WFP) says over 500,000 children are facing irreversible damage to their growth after four years of drought in southern Madagascar caused by human-induced climate change.

“While we are rushing to space, 41 million people are knocking on famine’s door,” noted WFP executive director, David Beasley.

Calling out Richard Branson, Jeff Besos and their billionaire peers, Beasley said that ending hunger by 2030 would cost US$40 billion per year. “That seems like a lot of money. But in the United States alone, in the last one year, the US billionaires’ net worth increase was over one trillion."

According to the World Resources Institute (WRI) food supply chains continue to be disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, climate change and commodity-driven deforestation.

As a result, the world faces a growing food crisis as the number of people who go to sleep hungry rose by over 100 million in 2020.

At the same time, the human quest for food is responsible for about a quarter of all global greenhouse gas emissions, consumes over 70 percent of all freshwater while being a major polluter, and is the leading driver of forest and biodiversity loss.

The UN Food Systems Summit, scheduled for September 2021, is the first-of-its-kind opportunity for nations around the globe to tackle the question: How can we nutritiously feed a growing population amid worsening climate change while holding the line on further conversion of natural ecosystems, meeting the Paris Climate Agreement and lifting millions of farmers out of poverty?

The WRI says the answer is a cohesive plan for the global food system to sustainably boost yields on existing agricultural lands; protect remaining native, natural ecosystems from agriculture-related conversion and degradation; reduce existing inefficiencies in the food system by halving an estimated billion-plus tons a year of food loss and waste by 2030; and revitalize nature in some places and restore productivity to degraded agriculture in others.

The organisation says an estimated US$300 billion to US$350 billion is needed to scale change in food systems in order to nutritiously feed nearly 10 billion people by 2050.

Speaking at the UN Food Systems Pre-Summit in July, Beasley commented: “There’s over US$400 trillion on planet earth today. It is a shame that we have one single child going to bed hungry – let alone dying of hunger at a rate of one every five, six seconds.”

Meanwhile as food stocks run low at this time of year in normal climate conditions, the WFP says over 1.14 million people are now food insecure in Madagascar - with the risk of people in ‘catastrophic’ conditions rising to 28,000 by October.
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