Preventing Famine and Fighting Food Insecurity
by WFP, FAO, Global Network Against Food Crises
10:38am 22nd Sep, 2022
21 Sep. 2022
With one person estimated to be dying of hunger every four seconds, 238 local and international non-governmental organisations are calling on leaders gathering at the 77th UN General Assembly to take decisive action to end the spiralling global hunger crisis.
Organisations from 75 countries have signed an open letter expressing outrage at skyrocketing hunger levels and recommendations for action. A staggering 345 million people are now experiencing acute hunger, a number that has more than doubled since 2019.
Despite promises from world leaders to never allow famine again in the 21st century, famine is once more imminent in Somalia. Around the world, 50 million people are on the brink of starvation in 45 countries.
Dear UN Member States,
"No water, no food, a hopeless life. Above all, my children are starving. They are on the verge of death. Unless they get some food, I'm afraid they will die." - Sumaya, 32, mother of four, IDP camp in the Somali Region, Ethiopia
We, the undersigned 238 non-governmental organizations working with the most vulnerable communities and witnessing the catastrophic effects of the unprecedented global food crisis unfolding, urgently request that you act immediately to prevent more unnecessary suffering.
From Somalia to Haiti, South Sudan to Yemen, Afghanistan to Nigeria, people’s lives in the most fragile contexts are being devastated by a global food crisis, fueled by a deadly mix of conflict, climate change, rising costs and economic crises, exacerbated by COVID-19 and the Ukraine conflict.
Fifty million people are now just one step away from starvation. Over 345 million more are bowing under the crushing weight of hunger, struggling to feed their families and at risk of death.
Behind these statistics are real people and lack of action has horrific, real life and death consequences. For the woman who fled her country to escape the violence of war and now has her food ration halved or suspended completely. For the hungry child forced to drop out of school to work so their family can eat. For the young girl forced into marriage, where she faces sexual exploitation and abuse. And for the caregiver who makes the long journey to seek treatment for a severely malnourished toddler only to find the health clinic is closed due to funding shortages.
The international community and national governments are failing to meet their duty and have prioritised political and economic interests over the wellbeing of the world’s most vulnerable children, families and communities. While political leaders have made many promises, in the cities, towns, villages, and refugee and internal displacement camps where millions of lives hang in the balance, far too little has changed.
In a world of plenty, leaving people to starve is a policy choice. We call on you as world leaders to take urgent action to stem this crisis and prevent future ones.
You must immediately deliver the funding needed to reach 50 million people on the edge of starvation to save lives NOW. You must also support vulnerable countries and communities to build resilience NOW.
And you must take action to anticipate, prevent and prepare for subsequent crises to secure the future, including by delivering much needed climate finance, reallocated Special Drawing Rights, and meaningful debt relief.
We repeatedly miss the opportunity to prevent hunger and hardship from happening in the first place by not responding quickly enough to early warnings to save lives, build resilience, and make the smart investments needed to sustainably address hunger crises in the long term.
If the pandemic taught us anything it is that prevention is more humane and much less expensive than waiting to respond. The lack of political will and institutional failure to act quickly before the worst-case hits means people are being left to lurch from crisis to crisis. People are not starving; they are being starved.
Accompanying this letter, we outline a set of specific recommendations to help address the current hunger crisis and prevent future crises, endorsed by NGOs across the world.
We have already lost far too much time – the families we work with every day need action NOW.
The lives of millions of girls, boys, women, and men depend on the bold and courageous actions you, the United Nations Member States, take - or fail to take – when you gather at the UN General Assembly in the coming weeks.
We must not let people starve to death on our watch. There is no place for famine in the 21st century.
21 Sep. 2022
Humanitarian action critical to preventing starvation and death. (WFP, FAO)
The number of people facing acute food insecurity worldwide is expected to continue to rise precipitously, as the food crisis tightens its grip on 19 ‘hunger hotspots’ – driven by rising conflict, weather extremes, and economic instability aggravated by the pandemic and the ripple effects of the crisis in Ukraine, a joint UN report released today has found.
The ‘Hunger Hotspots – FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity’ report - issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) calls for urgent humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods and prevent famine in hotspot countries where acute food insecurity is expected to worsen from October 2022 to January 2023.
The report offers country-specific recommendations on priorities for anticipatory action – short-term protective measures to be put in place before new humanitarian needs materialize; and emergency response – actions to address existing humanitarian needs.
“The severe drought in the Horn of Africa has pushed people to the brink of starvation, destroying crops and killing livestock on which their survival depends. Acute food insecurity is rising fast and spreading across the world. People in the poorest countries in particular who have yet to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are suffering from the ripple effects of ongoing conflicts, in terms of prices, food and fertilizer supplies, as well as the climate emergency. Without a massively scaled up humanitarian response that has at its core time-sensitive and life-saving agricultural assistance, the situation will likely worsen in many countries in the coming months,” the report states.
“This is the third time in 10 years that Somalia has been threatened with a devastating famine. The famine in 2011 was caused by two consecutive failed rainy seasons as well as conflict. Today we’re staring at a perfect storm: a likely fifth consecutive failed rainy season that will see drought lasting well into 2023. But the people at the sharp end of today’s crisis are also facing soaring food prices and severely limited opportunities to earn a living following the pandemic. We urgently need to get help to those in grave danger of starvation in Somalia and the world’s other hunger hotspots,” said David Beasley, WFP’s Executive Director.
The report spotlights the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, where the longest drought in over 40 years is forecast to continue - with the fifth failed rainy season in a row on the horizon - adding to the cumulative, devastating effects that successive rainfall deficits, economic crises and conflict have had on vulnerable households since 2020. Water scarcity has led to below average harvests, livestock deaths, and forced hundreds of thousands of people off their land in search of sustenance, while increasing the risk of intercommunal and resource-based conflict.
Up to 26 million people are expected to face Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 and above) levels of food insecurity in Somalia, southern and eastern Ethiopia, and northern and eastern Kenya. With humanitarian assistance at risk of being cut due to funding shortfalls, the spectre of large-scale deaths from hunger looms large in Somalia, with famine likely to take hold in the districts of Baidoa and Burhakaba in Bay region come October. Without an adequate humanitarian response, analysts expect that by December, as many as four children or two adults per 10 000 people will die every day. Hundreds of thousands are already facing starvation today with staggering levels of malnutrition expected among children under 5.
Globally, an all-time high of 970,000 people are expected to face catastrophic hunger (IPC Phase 5) and are starving or projected to starve or at risk of deterioration to catastrophic conditions in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, if no action is taken – ten times more than six years ago when only two countries had populations in Phase 5.
According to the report, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen remain at the ‘highest alert’ as hotspots, alone account for almost a million people facing catastrophic levels of hunger (IPC Phase 5 ‘Catastrophe’) with starvation and death a daily reality and where extreme levels of mortality and malnutrition may unfold without immediate action.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Kenya, the Sahel, the Sudan and Syria remain ‘of very high concern’ with deteriorating conditions – as in the June edition of the quarterly report – but the alert is extended to the Central African Republic and Pakistan. Meanwhile, Guatemala, Honduras and Malawi have been added to the list of countries, joining Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Madagascar that remain hunger hotspots.
Violent conflict remains the primary driver of acute hunger with analysis indicating a continuation of this trend in 2022, with particular concern for Ethiopia, where an intensification of conflict and interethnic violence in several regions is expected to further escalate, driving up humanitarian needs.
Weather extremes such as floods, tropical storms and droughts remain critical drivers in many parts of the globe, and a “new normal” of consecutive and extreme weather events is becoming clear - particularly in the hotspots. Devastating floods have affected 33 million people in Pakistan alone this year and South Sudan faces a fourth consecutive year of extreme flooding. Meanwhile, a third consecutive season of below-average rainfall is projected in Syria.
For the first time in 20 years, the La Nina climate event has continued through three consecutive years – affecting agriculture and causing crop and livestock losses in many parts of the world, including Afghanistan, West and East Africa and Syria.
On the economic front, the persistently high global prices of food, fuel, and fertilizer – continue to drive high domestic prices and economic instability. Rising inflation rates have led governments to enact monetary-tightening measures in advanced economies which have also increased the cost of credit of low-income countries. This is constraining the ability of heavily indebted countries – the number of countries increased significantly in recent years - to finance the import of essential items.
In the face of these macroeconomic challenges, many governments are introducing austerity measures affecting incomes and purchasing power – particularly among the most vulnerable families. These trends are expected to increase in coming months, the report notes, with poverty and acute food insecurity rising further.
Humanitarian assistance is crucial to save lives and prevent starvation, death and the total collapse of livelihoods – the report notes, highlighting that insecurity, administrative and bureaucratic impediments, movement restrictions and physical barriers severely limit humanitarian responders’ access to people facing acute hunger in eleven of the hotspot countries, including all six of the countries where populations are facing or are projected to face starvation (IPC Phase 5), or are at risk of deterioration towards catastrophic conditions.
The report calls for targeted humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods in the 19 hunger hotspots, noting that in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, humanitarian action will be critical in preventing further starvation and death.
12 Sep. 2022 (UN Web TV)
UN General Assembly roundtable event on Preventing Famine and Fighting Food Insecurity.
Roundtable organized by the Global Network Against Food Crises and the High-Level Task Force on Famine Prevention. http://www.fightfoodcrises.net/
The world is facing a global hunger crisis of alarming proportions in 2022, and we are at a critical crossroads. Following swiftly on the heels of the pandemic, the conflict in Ukraine is compounding what is already a year of unprecedented needs, unleashing a wave of collateral hunger that is spreading across the globe, transforming a series of terrible hunger emergencies into a global food crisis the world cannot afford.
The Food Security Information Network presents the findings of the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises - Mid-year Update, followed by roundtable discussions which provide an opportunity, ahead of the UN General Assembly, to raise awareness of the shocking levels of acute food insecurity, discuss how we can tackle these crises through collective action and promote solutions needed to immediately avert and prevent famine.
* UN Web TV (Video Length 2hrs): http://media.un.org/en/asset/k18/k18m25q7v2
* Global Report on Food Crises 2022 - Mid Year Update (Aug.): http://bit.ly/3eWzlEv
Sep. 2022 (ICRC/IFRC)
Crisis fatigue not an option as global hunger crisis deepens, by International Red Cross, Red Crescent Movement
The warning lights are flashing on high: armed conflict, climate-related emergencies, economic hardship and political obstacles are leading to a growing wave of hunger in countries around the world. The misery for millions will deepen without immediate urgent action.
Systems-level improvements must be made to escape a cycle of recurrent crises, including investments in climate-smart food production in conflict-affected areas, and reliable mechanisms to support hard-to-reach communities hit by food shortages and skyrocketing prices, the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) and the International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) said ahead of the upcoming United Nations General Assembly.
The international armed conflict in Ukraine has greatly disrupted global food supply systems as well as future harvests in many countries due to the impact it's having on the availability of fertilizer. The importance of more shipments by the Black Sea grain initiative reaching vulnerable populations in East Africa cannot be overstated. Too few grain shipments are getting to where they are needed.
As hunger emergencies hit the headlines, the risk of crisis fatigue is high. Yet what's uniquely frightening about this moment is the breadth and depth of the needs. More than 140 million people face acute food insecurity due to conflict and instability, even as climate change and economic precarity indicate that hunger needs will rise in the coming months.
Political will and resources are needed now. Without them, many lives will be lost, and the suffering will endure for years. An emergency response alone will not end these hunger crises. Concerted action and long-term approaches are the only way to break the cycle.
While addressing urgent needs, it is essential to set the foundation for resilience. More efforts must be made --- by governments, private sectors, and humanitarian and development groups --- to support long-term food security, livelihoods, and resilience plans.
Measures must include investments in strengthening grassroots food systems and community actors to sustainably achieve food and economic security. One of the approaches to consider is anticipatory action for food security, based on forecasts and risk analysis.
Francesco Rocca, President of the IFRC, said:
"Two dozen countries across Africa are grappling with the worst food crisis in decades. Some 22 million people in the Horn of Africa are in the clutches of starvation due to such compounding crises as drought, flooding, COVID-19's economic effects, conflict -- even desert locusts. Behind the staggeringly high numbers are real people -- men, women and children battling death-level hunger every day. The situation is expected to deteriorate into 2023. However, with swift action, many lives can be saved. We need urgent and massive action to scale up life-saving assistance to millions of people in dire need of aid, but also to decisively address the root causes of this crisis through longer term commitments."
The IFRC and its membership---which consists of Red Cross and Red Crescent teams in nearly every corner of the globe---are delivering aid in hard-to-reach communities. Assistance includes getting cash into the hands of families to meet food, health and other urgent needs. In Nigeria, Red Cross volunteers focus on pregnant and breastfeeding mothers, whose nutrition is paramount for healthy births and childhoods. In Madagascar, volunteers restore land and water sources through anti-erosion activities, the construction of water points, and a focus on irrigation in addition to traditional ways to fight hunger, like nutrition monitoring.
Peter Maurer, President of the ICRC, said:
"Conflict is a huge driver of hunger. We see violence preventing farmers from planting and harvesting. We see sanctions and blockades preventing food delivery to the most vulnerable. My wish is that we build resiliency into the fabric of humanitarian response, so that communities suffer less when violence and climate change upend lives. A cycle of band-aid solutions will not be enough in coming years."
The ICRC this year has helped nearly 1 million people in south and central Somalia buy a month's worth of food by distributing cash to more than 150,000 households. A similar programme in Nigeria helped 675,000 people, while more than a quarter million people received climate smart agriculture inputs to restore crop production. The ICRC works to strengthen resilience through seeds, tools and livestock care so that residents can better absorb recurrent shocks. And its medical professionals are running stabilization centres in places like Somalia, where kids are getting specialized nutrition care.
Communities around the world are suffering deep hardship. A short snapshot of some of the regions in need includes:
In Sub-Saharan Africa: One in three children under the age of five is stunted by chronic undernutrition, while two out of five women of childbearing age are anaemic because of poor diets. The majority of people in sub-Saharan Africa live on less than $1.90 a day.
In Afghanistan: The combination of three decades of armed conflict and an economic crash resulting in few job opportunities and a massive banking crisis are having a devastating effect on Afghan families' ability to buy food. More than half the country -- 24 million -- need assistance. The International Red Cross Red Crescent Movement welcomes any measure aimed at easing the effect of economic sanctions. But given the depth of the humanitarian crisis, long-term solutions are also needed, including the resumption of projects and investments by states and development agencies in key infrastructure.
In Pakistan: The recent flooding has led to an estimated $12 billion in losses. Food security in the country was alarming before this latest catastrophe, with 43 percent of the population food insecure. Now the number of acutely hungry people is expected to rise substantially. Some 78,000 square kilometers (21 million acres) of crops are under water. An estimated 65 percent of the country's food basket -- crops like rice and wheat-- have been destroyed, with over 733,000 livestock reportedly killed. The floods will also negatively affect food delivery into neighboring Afghanistan.
In Somalia: We have seen a five-fold increase in the number of malnourished children needing care. Last month the Bay Regional Hospital in Baidoa admitted 466 children, up from 82 in August 2021. Children admitted here die without the specialized nutritional care they receive.
In Syria: Food insecurity rates have risen more than 50 percent since 2019. Today, two-thirds of Syria's population --12.4 million out of 18 million -- can't meet their daily food needs. The compounding effects of more than a decade of conflict, including the consequences of sanctions, have crippled people's buying power. Food prices have risen five-fold in the last two years.
In Yemen: Most Yemenis survive on one meal a day. Last year 53 percent of Yemen's population were food insecure. This year it's 63 percent -- or some 19 million people. Aid actors have been forced to cut food assistance due to a lack of funds. Some 5 million people will now receive less than 50 percent of their daily nutritional requirement because of it.
http://www.ifrc.org/press-release/crisis-fatigue-not-option-global-hunger-crisis-deepens-international-red-cross-red http://www.ifrc.org/news-press-releases-speeches/emergency/1725 http://www.icrc.org/en/document/when-child-dies-hunger-its-result-systemic-failures
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