Editor's Note [Volume 21 No. 4 (2021)]

POVERTY is the VILLAIN

Without eradicating poverty, there is no way to achieve Zero Hunger by 2030. At the 1974 World Food Conference, it was declared: “Within a decade, no child will go to bed hungry, and no family will fear for its next day’s bread” by the then US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger.

The world population in 1974 was about half what it is today. Now, because of the impact of the pandemic, more than one billion people are vulnerable to hunger. Ironically travel has been brought to a standstill by the pandemic, businesses have been affected with many low-income earners losing their source of livelihood. At the same time, mother nature has pushed many to the brink: hurricanes and cyclones, floods, earthquakes, locusts, fall armyworm, volcanoes and mudslides. The poor struggle to survive. Their last worry is to think about how we should save mother nature. Yet, we need everyone on board if we hope to succeed in reversing some of the adverse environmental effects that MAN has caused over the decades.

As we head towards the United Nations Food Systems Summit in September, we should ask ourselves what is it we are going to achieve? Why is it that despite holding so many global conferences since 1974, we do not seem to make meaningful impact in reducing the number of people who are vulnerable to hunger and malnutrition? The world is now faced with the triple burden of undernutrition, overnutrition and micronutrient deficiency. And now we can add on the pandemic which just won’t go away. So we are all in this together.

What is it we shall do at our individual level, and at our collective level to help transform the food systems landscape? The poor, the vulnerable are found everywhere: in cities in both industrialized and non-industrialized countries, in rural communities, in those communities bordering forests, amongst fisher people, and pastoralists, among indigenous people and refugees. How different will the summit be? What do we expect the outcome to look like?

Is it possible to have a consensus or several consensuses? There is no doubt there will be a lot of interest groups, many already holding dialogues across the globe. Given that this is June and the Summit is scheduled for September, most likely it will be online as it is unlikely the virus will have moved on in 3 months. These are strange times indeed. But even as we hold these dialogues, how are the vulnerable represented? How do we ensure their rights and needs are taken care of?

During the pandemic period, countries have tended to be closed-in and protectionist, what with all the lockdowns, and enforcing travel restrictions. Although some information has been shared, to a large extent each country has managed the virus on its own, using their protocols, even though some protocols have become generic, such as: sanitize regularly, social distance and wear masks. It seems though that 18 months on, some communities have tended to relax some of these measures and in many cases that has been counter-productive.

Or people are just tired of being herded like cattle, but it is for our good, is it not? The virus continues to behave very strangely, one must say. And as it does so, more and more people are being pushed to abject poverty, as inequality increases. So, what should we do to achieve zero hunger by 2030, as is spelled out in Sustainable Development Goal 2? To save mother nature, all of us need to be on board; we have to find ways to address poverty; we must channel meaningful resources to those at the bottom of the economy, and only then can we hope to see the majority of the one billion who are hungry join everyone else to address climate variability. Everyone needs to feel valued. How do we achieve this?

We have 10 great manuscripts. We wish to congratulate the authors for their patience, and for getting their papers through an extremely rigorous process. To our reviewers, we value you and appreciate you, always. We welcome our readers to enjoy these papers. Our Guest Editor for this issue is Prof Nnam Ngozi, of the University of Nigeria, Nzukka (UNN), a long-term friend and extremely well accomplished. There is so much to learn about breastfeeding benefits in her Guest Editorial.

Ruth Oniang'o
Editor-in-Chief, AJFAND



 

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