Growing cities, growing food insecurity: How to protect the poor during rapid urbanization
BY MARIE RUEL
The 2020 State of Food and Nutrition Security in the World (SOFI) estimates that close to 690 million people, or about 9% of the world population, did not have access to enough food or were “undernourished” in 2019. These statistics, however, assume that having enough calories is the only thing that human beings need to live a healthy and active life. This is not the case. To improve the accuracy of the information presented for the first time, the SOFI report also includes new measures of food security, which show that up to 2 billion people did not have access to safe, nutritious, and sufficient food in 2019 and 3 billion could not afford a healthy diet. These new measures are much more in line with the 1996 World Food Summit comprehensive and widely endorsed definition of food security, which states that “food security exists when all people, at all times, have physical and economic access to sufficient, safe, and nutritious foods that meets their dietary needs and food preferences for an active and healthy life.” Clearly, food security measures based only on quantity of food grossly underestimate the magnitude and severity of the problem and reflect only one of the many aspects of what food security really entails.
Photo credit: Melissa Cooperman/IFPRI