Written by CNN Staff Writer
Hunger is at its highest level in more than two decades in Latin America and the Caribbean, according to a report released by the United Nations’ food agency.
The worrying figures, published Thursday by the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), indicate that around 23.1 million people around the region — which constitutes around one-third of the population — struggle to meet their daily needs.
These hungry people live primarily in the two leading countries of the region, Mexico and Brazil, but are also seen in the cities of Colombia, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, Mexico, Nicaragua, Peru and Venezuela.
Dried maize, which are grown in Brazil and Mexico to feed the millions of hungry people in the region. Credit: FIERCE IMAGES / Bruce Freestone
According to the report, about a third of these people are unable to afford basic food and drink, which is largely due to skyrocketing costs of basic necessities such as meat, milk and vegetables.
More than half of the region’s citizens live in poverty, with many forced to choose between paying rent and buying food, the IFAD report says.
John Dugard, chair of the IFAD’s board of directors, has called on governments and the private sector to mobilize “a response commensurate with the severity of the situation.”
“There is a lot of call for immediate international assistance, but right now what we are seeing is that the Governments are trying to address this right away,” Dugard told CNN.
Nearly two-thirds of the region’s population does not have access to enough food, whether it’s a rising cost of food, environmental problems that damage crops or ongoing conflict that limits the development of rural areas, IFAD said.
Around one third of all people around the world are already suffering from hunger
This isn’t the first time the IFAD has looked at the issue. Last year, the organization and the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) produced a regional report that flagged “grave problems” in feeding the estimated 115 million people in the region who live on less than $1.90 per day — the U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 2 target.
Countries in the region face a particular challenge in finding ways to address widespread malnutrition among children, the IFAD report notes. As malnutrition often occurs during the first two years of life, many communities require large-scale interventions to meet this key target.