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14 Oct 2020

Donors must spend double to end hunger: Study

UN estimates ending world hunger will cost US $ 267 billion per year. Daily Sabah Photo
UN estimates ending world hunger will cost US $ 267 billion per year. Daily Sabah Photo

Donors must spend an additional US $14 billion a year between now and 2030, roughly double what they currently spend on aid for food security and nutrition, according to new research from the Centre for Development Research (ZEF), Cornell University, the UN Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), and the International Institute for Sustainable Development (IISD).

“The world produces enough food to feed everyone. So it’s unacceptable that 690 million people are undernourished, 2 billion don’t have regular access to sufficient amounts of safe, nutritious food, and 3 billion people cannot afford healthy diets,”      said Maximo Torero, Chief Economist at FAO.

“If rich countries double their aid commitments and help poor countries to prioritize, properly target and scale up cost effective interventions on agricultural R&D, technology, innovation, education, social protection and on trade facilitation, we can end hunger by 2030,” he added.

The call-to-action represents a coming together of two projects Ceres2030:  Sustainable solutions to End Hunger, led by Cornell, IFPRI and IISD, and joint research from FAO and ZEF.

Both sets of findings was presented at a program held yesterday hosted by the German government, where donors pledged money to the Global Agriculture and Food Security Program (GAFSP).

Ceres2030 and FAO-ZEF used different methodologies but arrived at the same conclusion: donors should double their spending. Ceres2030 built a computable general equilibrium (CGE) economic model to assess the best way to end hunger sustainably, in line with the second UN Sustainable Development Goal.

“We found that if donors double their aid, alongside poorer countries also increasing spending from their own budgets, then by the end of the decade we could end hunger, double the incomes of 545 million small-scale farmers, and limit agricultural emissions in line with the Paris climate agreement,” said David Laborde, Senior Research Fellow at IFPRI.

Joachim von Braun, Director of ZEF and Chair of the Scientific Group that advises the UN on the upcoming Food Systems Summit, said, “Our study shows that an additional US $39-50 billion per annum is needed to end hunger by 2030, as envisaged by the second Sustainable Development Goal.

Ceres2030 also developed a groundbreaking new AI machine-learning tool, described in a paper in Nature Machine Intelligence, which was used by a young, female-led team of over 70 researchers from 23 countries to answer eight research questions covering areas such as water scarcity and employment for the future.

The findings were published in a new collection of eight peer-reviewed journal articles in Nature Research, which show how governments can best target their spending to end hunger, whilst also increasing the incomes of smallholder farmers and reducing the impact of agriculture on the environment.

“We used our new AI tool to analyze half a million articles from the last 20 years. The tool helped us identify the 10,000 most relevant articles, from which we could then draw valuable conclusions about what works to end hunger,” said Jaron Porciello, Associate Director at Cornell University.

The Ceres2030 and FAO-ZEF studies both recommend that donors make interventions evidence-based and designed to support each other, including investing in agricultural R&D, supporting social protection programs that provide food or cash to those in aid, and driving inclusion, such as through improving female literacy and providing training for rural youth. Spending should focus on where need is greatest—primarily sub-Saharan Africa and South Asia.

Carin Smaller, Director of Agriculture, Trade and Investment at IISD said, “This is a call to action. If rich countries double their aid commitments on food security and nutrition, the end of hunger will be within reach.”

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