Drought is particularly hard on herding and farming families, who depend on land and livestock to survive.
Toby Madden
Action Against Hunger, Ethiopia

As Famine Looms, Only 7% of UN Appeals for Hunger Relief Are Filled

Report Released Today by Action Against Hunger Shows Decade-Long Trend: Humanitarian Needs Up 500% As 42% Fewer UN Appeals Are Fulfilled

Only 7% of appeals for urgent hunger-related funding through the UN humanitarian system are filled, leaving a hunger funding gap of 93%, according to “The Hunger Funding Gap: How The World Is Failing to Stop the Crisis,” an analysis released today by Action Against Hunger, a nonprofit leader in the global movement to end hunger.  The assessment also found that while global funding has increased 233% over the past decade, overall humanitarian needs are up 500%, so 42% fewer UN appeals are being fulfilled.

The analysis examined 13 countries that experienced “crisis” levels of hunger or worse in 2020, and how the global community responded with funding in 2021. Only 7.6% of Food Security appeals were fully funded and no appeals for support of water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) programs were fully funded. The majority (61%) of hunger-related appeals were not even funded to the halfway point. Additionally, countries that experienced the greatest hunger crises actually received less hunger funding (by percentage of appeals filled) than countries with half the rate of hunger.

“It’s alarming that people in desperate need saw only 7% of urgent hunger-related funding requests being met in 2021. While money isn’t the only answer, it must be part of the solution. As a global community concerned about hunger, we all need to put our money where our mouths are,” said Michelle Brown, Advocacy Director, Action Against Hunger USA.

The analysis found that greater hunger levels don’t necessarily lead to greater levels of funding or media attention. In fact, countries where the hunger crisis was greatest actually received less hunger funding (by percentage of appeals filled) than countries experiencing half the rate of hunger. The report also overlays an analysis of global English-language media and found that coverage correlates to funding levels rather than levels of hunger or unmet need.

The Hunger Funding Gap comes as approximately 828 million people — one in ten worldwide — are undernourished and as many as 50 million people in 45 countries are on the verge of famine. The climate crisis, war, and soaring inflation are impacting farmers’ ability to grow food and families’ ability to afford what little is available. These factors also are driving up the costs for humanitarian organizations to secure and transport supplies, contributing to a growing hunger crisis in many parts of the world.

According to the report, 90% of Americans believe that global hunger remains a serious problem, up slightly from the 86% who held that view in 2021. While the American public significantly underestimates the severity of the hunger funding gap, the majority (75%) sees a lack of funding as a major barrier to addressing hunger – and they hold negative views of politicians who don’t act in the face of a hunger crisis.

“It’s encouraging to see that people care about this issue and both experts and the general public told us hunger is a problem they believe we can solve,” said Brown. “We applaud major donors who have increased funding significantly over the past decade. The challenge is that even this increased funding hasn’t been enough to keep pace with rising needs. We need to see far more giving from additional donor countries, particularly those that have the capacity, but haven’t been as engaged to date.”

The report is the result of Action Against Hunger’s analysis of the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) Humanitarian Response Plan funding data, as well as an analysis of English-language global news via MuckRack and a public opinion survey conducted with The Harris Poll. The methodology and full results are available here.

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