World Food Day 2023 in Latin America and the Caribbean
October 16th is the World Food Day. The 2023 theme, according to the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), is "Water is life, water is food. Leave no one behind". That means, water is essential in the food system.
The organisation explains that around 600 million people who depend on aquatic food systems are suffering from the effects of pollution, ecosystem degradation, unsustainable practices, and climate change. Nowadays, over 2 billion people live in water-stressed countries. “Rapid population growth, urbanisation, economic development, and climate change are putting the planet's water resources under increasing stress” as described in FAO's page.
The United Nations (UN) highlights that the global goal of eradicating hunger is still achievable. This can impact around 780 million people who are hungry around the world.
Latin America and the Caribbean food insecurity
When we talk about people who are hungry in Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), some important highlights are provided from the “Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition – Latin America and the Caribbean 2022” from the UN, published in January 2023.
The report shows that more than 130 million people in the region cannot afford quality food, and in the last years, the number of people with hungry in Latin American and the Caribbean was about 56.5 million.
According to the World Bank, in the region, 150 million people live in hydraulic stress zones and over 400 million don't have safe sanitation. With those statistics it is possible to infer that water, as a great strategic asset, influences food, the economy and, most importantly, people's lives in LAC.The UN Overview also shows that in 2021, in the region, around 40% of the population experienced moderate or severe food insecurity, compared to 29.3% worldwide.
How to deal with hunger and malnutrition
Governments, society, and other actors need to respond to hunger and malnutrition by the diversification of nutritious food production, focusing as much as possible on small producers. It is also urgent to support the nutrition of the most vulnerable population, such as the original population, especially in crisis situations.
To guarantee good and accessible food by the next years, the World Food Day 2023 campaign also “seeks solutions to produce more food and other essential agricultural products with less water, while ensuring that water is distributed equitably, that our aquatic food systems are preserved and do not be left behind”.
The promotional video by FAO about World Food Day 2023 with young people singing about the importance of water in the food system shows how important it is, in the present and future, for people to get involved in water preservation.