The new United Nations report Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2022 finds that 22.5% of the Latin America and the Caribbean population cannot afford a healthy diet. In the Caribbean this figure reaches 52%; in Mesoamerica, 27.8%; and in South America, 18.4%.
The publication reports that 131.3 million people in the region could not afford a healthy diet in 2020. This represents an increase of 8 million compared to 2019 and is due to the higher average daily cost of healthy diets in Latin America and the Caribbean compared to the rest of the world’s regions, reaching in the Caribbean a value of USD 4.23, followed by South America and Mesoamerica with USD 3.61 and USD 3.47, respectively.
This problem is related to different socioeconomic and nutritional indicators. The report presents a clear relationship between the inability to afford a healthy diet and such variables as a country’s income level, the incidence of poverty, and the level of inequality.
The report also reveals that the rise in international food prices experienced since 2020, exacerbated after the start of the conflict in Ukraine, and a regional increase in food inflation above the general level, have increased the difficulties for people to access a healthy diet.
The document also includes recommendations based on evidence and an analysis of policies already implemented to improve the availability and affordability of nutritious foods, focusing on supporting the most vulnerable people and low-income households that spend a more significant proportion of their budget on food.
It also describes The report also describes how some nutrition-sensitive social protection programs have worked and how they are essential to support the diets of the most vulnerable population, particularly in periods of crisis. “We must act now, but how can we do it? Supporting governments to expand social protection networks because the pandemic once again demonstrated that social protection is useful to improve the affordability of a healthy diet, preventing crises like this from hitting affected populations even more”, said Lola Castro, WFP Regional Director.
The Regional Panorama of Food and Nutrition Security 2022 is a joint publication of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO); the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); the Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO); the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Program (WFP).