A record high of nearly 193 million people across 53 countries are acutely food insecure, meaning their lives or livelihoods are in danger, according to new data in the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises, published on Wednesday by the UN’s World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization, and the European Commission. The number of people struggling to survive in food crises has increased by 80% since the Global Report on Food Crises was first released in 2016.
“This report is alarming, but not a surprise. It echoes what we have been seeing in the growing numbers of children admitted into our hunger treatment programs. We have been warning the world about this outcome since before the pandemic began,” said Dr. Charles E. Owubah, CEO for Action Against Hunger. “What is particularly heartbreaking is the 26 million children around the world who are suffering from the deadliest form of hunger – acute malnutrition. These young children are severely underweight and experiencing developmental delays and weakened immune systems that leave them especially vulnerable to diseases. Without immediate help, they are at risk of dying,”
Among the 193 million facing acute food insecurity are more than half a million people who are in famine conditions – experiencing catastrophic levels of hunger – in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Madagascar, and Yemen. An additional 40 million are on the brink of famine around the world.
The top driver for food crises in 2021 continued to be conflict: it was the predominant cause of hunger for 139 million people in 24 countries. Conflict is fueling hunger in Ethiopia, South Sudan and Yemen, three of the four countries facing famine conditions. Other key drivers include climate-related disasters, emergencies, and economic shocks.
“It’s important to note that the report, which analyzes data from 2021, does not account for the devastating impacts of the Ukraine conflict on the global food system. With food, fuel, and fertilizer costs rising dramatically and the already-limited funds available to meet humanitarian needs on the decline, we’re deeply concerned that even more people will face a crisis of hunger this year,” said Owubah.
May 5th marks one year since the G7 signed a Famine Prevention Compact, pledging to prevent the kind of hunger catastrophe that the recent report warns is on the horizon.
“In 2017, swift collective action stopped a burgeoning famine in East Africa. Now, governments need to take similar urgent action to prevent millions from losing their lives to hunger,” said Owubah.
To address the devastating impacts of the war in Ukraine on global food security, especially in low-and middle-income countries, Action Against Hunger urges the U.S. Congress to provide $5 billion for emergency global food security funding in its supplemental funding bill. The U.S. Government must also support diplomatic initiatives to prevent and manage conflict, the primary driver of hunger, as well as climate change.
Finally, we call on donors worldwide to increase their investments to better predict and prevent hunger crises, and to provide urgent and flexible funding to prevent food and nutrition crises from worsening even further. Millions of lives are at risk, and the world cannot continue to stand idly by.