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Food & Hunger

'We Are Not Doing Enough' to End World Hunger, Says Mandela's Widow Graça Machel

By Thin Lei Win

ROME, June 22 — The world is nowhere near to achieving the global goal to end hunger and malnutrition by 2030 because of a lack of accountability and responsibility by decision-makers, Nelson Mandela's widow warned on Saturday.

Graça Machel told ministers, ambassadors, and representatives from 194 nations at the United Nations' Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in Rome that the failure was at all levels — international, country, and individual.

"We are not doing enough on the pace and level of investment and we're not going to get there," she told the Thomson Reuters Foundation after her lecture.

"That's my assessment, and they have to prove me wrong," added Machel, whose namesake trust promotes women's and children's rights in Africa.

Member nations of the UN unanimously adopted 17 Global Goals in 2015 committing over 15 years to tackle a list of world's most pressing issues, ranging from conflict, hunger, gender equality, and climate change.

But aid groups and financial organizations are increasingly raising concerns the world is off track to meet the ambitious set of targets by 2030.

Read More: 113 Million People Lack Food Due to Climate Change and Conflict: UN

Globally, 821 million people — or 1 in 9 — did not have enough food to eat in 2017, the third consecutive year of rising hunger levels, according to latest UN figures.

Climate change is already affecting crop productivity and growing seasons, and could leave more people hungry in Africa, warned Machel, who is also member of the Elders, a group of elder statesmen set up by her late husband Nelson Mandela.

"If the current situation persists, Africa will be fulfilling only 13% of its food needs by 2050," she said.

"I want people to change their attitudes towards hunger," said Machel, a former first lady of Mozambique, whose first husband, President Samora Machel, died in a plane crash in 1986.

She urged international donors and governments to boost investment in rural areas and scale up efforts to end hunger.

"We have the knowledge, the technology. [But] even the resources which are necessary to invest in rural areas are not as big as the terrible things people are doing to destroy the environment," Machel said.

Read More: The Key to Ending World Hunger? Healthy Soil, UN Says

"As I stand here this morning, every minute children are dying in Africa and Asia from malnutrition," Machel said in an impassioned speech at the opening of the FAO Conference, the organization's highest governing body.

(Reporting By Thin Lei Win @thinink. Editing by Belinda Goldsmith. Please credit the Thomson Reuters Foundation, the charitable arm of Thomson Reuters, that covers humanitarian news, climate change, women's and LGBT+ rights, human trafficking, and property rights. Visit news.trust.org)