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258 million people in 58 countries faced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels in 2022
by Global Network Against Food Crises, agencies
7:57am 10th May, 2023
May 2023
258 million people in 58 countries faced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels in 2022, reports Global Network Against Food Crises (GRFC)
At least 258 million people in 58 countries were in Crisis or worse acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) in 2022. This is the highest on record since the Global Network Against Food Crises (GRFC) started reporting these data in 2017.
It marks the fourth consecutive year of rising numbers of people in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above due to persistently high numbers in some countries, worsening situations in others, as well as increased analysis.
UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres writes in the report’s foreword:
"More than a quarter of a billion people are now facing acute levels of hunger, and some are on the brink of starvation. That’s unconscionable.
This seventh edition of the Global Report on Food Crises is a stinging indictment of humanity’s failure to make progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 2 to end hunger, and achieve food security and improved nutrition for all.
In fact, we are moving in the wrong direction. Conflicts and mass displacement continue to drive global hunger. Rising poverty, deepening inequalities, rampant underdevelopment, the climate crisis and natural disasters also contribute to food insecurity.
As always, it is the most vulnerable who bear the brunt of this failure, facing soaring food prices that were aggravated by the COVID-19 pandemic and, despite some declines, are still above 2019 levels due to the war in Ukraine. All this, while humanitarian funding to fight hunger and malnutrition pales in comparison to what is needed.
This crisis demands fundamental, systemic change. This report makes clear that progress is possible. We have the data and know-how to build a more resilient, inclusive, sustainable world where hunger has no home — including through stronger food systems, and massive investments in food security and improved nutrition for all people, no matter where they live.
With collective action and a commitment to change, we can ensure that every person, everywhere, has access to the most basic of human needs: food and nutrition".
Acute food insecurity is defined as when a person's inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger. It draws on internationally accepted measures of acute hunger, such as the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) and the Cadre Harmonise (CH).
People in seven countries faced starvation conditions in 2022 - in Somalia, South Sudan, Yemen, Afghanistan, Haiti, Nigeria and Burkina Faso.
At least 35 million people were in Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4) in 39 countries/territories. Households in this extremely severe situation face large food gaps, which are either reflected in high acute malnutrition rates and excess mortality.
Around half of the total population identified in IPC/CH Phase 4 was found in four countries – Afghanistan, Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Sudan. More than 40 percent of the population in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above resided in five countries/territories – the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Yemen.
Recurrent shocks are driving up acute food insecurity
The food crises outlined in the GRFC are the result of interconnected, mutually reinforcing drivers – conflict and insecurity, economic shocks and weather extremes.
In 2022, these key drivers were associated with lingering socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19, the knock-on effects of the war in Ukraine and repeated droughts and other weather extremes.
Conflict/insecurity was the most significant driver in 19 countries/territories where 117.1 million people were in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above or equivalent.
Six of the seven countries/territories with populations facing Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) – Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen – have protracted conflicts, while the very severe levels of acute food insecurity in Haiti are attributable to escalating gang violence in the capital.
Economic shocks (including the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and the repercussions of the war in Ukraine) became the main driver in 27 countries with 83.9 million people in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above or equivalent – up from 30.2 million people in 21 countries in 2021.
The economic resilience of poor countries has decreased, and they now face extended recovery periods and less ability to cope with future shocks.
Weather extremes were the primary driver of acute food insecurity in 12 countries where 56.8 million people were in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above or equivalent, more than double the number of people (23.5 million) in eight countries in 2021. These extremes included sustained drought in the Horn of Africa, devastating flooding in Pakistan, and tropical storms, cyclones and drought in Southern Africa.
High levels of child wasting in food-crisis countries/ territories curbs development and wellbeing
Malnutrition is multidimensional, and child nutritional status is determined by multiple factors. The GRFC demonstrates that areas with high levels of acute food insecurity tend to have high levels of child wasting, which, when combined, stymie the development and wellbeing of populations in the short, medium and long term.
In 30 of the 42 major food crises analysed in the GRFC 2023 where data on malnutrition were available, over 35 million children under 5 years of age suffered from wasting, with 9.2 million of them severely wasted (the most lethal form of undernutrition and a major contributor to child mortality).
Out of the total estimated children with wasting in those countries, about 65 percent lived in nine out of the ten countries with the highest number of people in IPC/CH Phase 3.
The global food crisis worsened the undernutrition situation of adolescent girls and women whose livelihoods, income and access to nutritious food have been disproportionately affected by conflict, climate change, poverty and other economic shocks, including that of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Number of forcibly displaced people in food crisis countries/territories is the highest in GRFC history
Displacement is both a driver and a consequence of food insecurity. People forced to flee their homes lose access to their livelihoods (including safe access to food, water and other necessities) while also facing major barriers to income, humanitarian aid, healthcare, and other essential services, exacerbating their vulnerability to food insecurity and undernutrition.
By mid-2022, the number of displaced people globally, including refugees, asylum seekers, Internally Displaced People (IDPs) and other people in need of international protection, had reached 103 million.
In 2022, displacement was caused by major conflicts, severe economic crises and climate change and weather extremes. By the end of 2022, nearly 53.2 million people were internally displaced in 25 countries/territories identified as food crises in the GRFC 2023.
The countries/territories with the highest numbers of IDPs in 2022 nearly mirrored the list of the 10 food crises with the largest numbers of people in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above or equivalent. In 2022, about 19.7 million refugees and asylum seekers were hosted in 55 out of the 58 food-crisis countries/territories identified in this GRFC edition.
The impact of the war in Ukraine on food crises around the world
The war in Ukraine has had an outsized impact on global food systems due to the major contributions Ukraine and the Russian Federation make to the production and trade of fuel, fertilizers and essential food commodities like wheat, maize and sunflower oil.
The timing of the war also contributed to this impact as higher international commodity prices in the first half of 2022 compounded the macroeconomic challenges that countries continued to face after the COVID-19 pandemic. This was particularly true for GRFC countries/territories as they were more likely to be exposed to commodity market volatility given many of their positions as low-income net food-importing countries.
Although global food prices had fallen somewhat by the end of 2022, they remained well above pre-pandemic levels. Domestic food prices, by contrast, experienced an increase but have yet to decline. In fact, food prices increased in all GRFC countries/ territories in 2022, with food inflation being over 10 percent in 38 out of the 58 countries/territories with food crises by the end of the year.
Their governments’ abilities to mitigate risks and insulate citizens from food price inflation through policy measures, such as stimulus payments and subsidies, was limited given their over-extended public budgets after the COVID-19 pandemic. Nearly all of the countries whose currencies lost value at an abnormally fast rate in 2022 were GRFC countries/territories.
Economic shocks are projected to be the main driver of acute food insecurity in 22 of these countries/territories as national economic resilience has been severely undermined by a slow recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, exacerbated by the war in Ukraine. Persisting high food prices coupled with high debt levels in some countries amid high interest rates and currency depreciation are expected to further erode households’ food access and constrain the fiscal capacity of governments to deliver assistance.
As of March 2023, food prices were at exceptionally high levels in Ethiopia, Ghana, Malawi, Myanmar, Namibia, Pakistan, Somalia, South Sudan and Zimbabwe.
Forecast to return in June 2023, the El Nino phenomenon is likely to result in dry weather conditions in key cropping areas of Central America, Southern Africa and Far East Asia, while excessive rainfall and possible flooding is foreseen in Near East Asia and East Africa.
Conflicts, national and global economic shocks and weather extremes continue to be increasingly intertwined, feeding into one another and creating spiralling negative effects on acute food insecurity and nutrition. And there is no indication that these drivers will ease in 2023: climate change is expected to drive further weather extremes, the global and national economies face a grim outlook, while conflicts and insecurity are likely to persist.
The magnitude of people facing IPC/CH Phase 3 or above is daunting, but it is that very scale that drives urgency. Earlier intervention can reduce food gaps and protect assets and livelihoods at a lower cost than late humanitarian response.
Yet too often the international community waits for a Famine (IPC/CH Phase 5) classification before mobilizing additional funding. By this stage, lives and futures have already been lost, livelihoods have collapsed, and social networks disrupted with deleterious impacts on the lives of an unborn generation.
Populations in IPC/CH Phase 3 are already unable to meet their minimum food needs or are compelled to protect food consumption by engaging in coping strategies that will harm their future ability to access food and sustain their livelihoods. In IPC/CH Phase 4, households face large food gaps, which are either reflected in high acute malnutrition levels and excess mortality. Urgent action is needed for households in IPC/CH Phase 3 and 4 to ensure immediate wellbeing, to support their ability to sustain themselves.
* The Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) provides a common scale for classifying the severity and magnitude of food insecurity and acute malnutrition. The classification is based on a convergence of available data and evidence, including indicators related to food consumption, livelihoods, malnutrition, and mortality. It is the internationally recognised standard measurement.
16 May 2023
WFP calls on G7 to keep focus on hunger as crises in Sudan, Haiti and Sahel add to global food crisis
The G7’s commitment to global food security in 2022 must be maintained in 2023 as new crises in Sudan, Haiti and the Sahel push more people into hunger, the UN World Food Programme said today, just days before G7 leaders were due to meet in Japan.
At least 345 million people are currently facing high levels of food insecurity, according to WFP analysis, an increase of almost 200 million since early 2020. Of these, 43 million are just one step away from famine. Meanwhile, WFP has recently been forced to cut food rations in operations in Afghanistan, Bangladesh and Palestine as needs outpace available funding. More cuts are looming in Somalia and Chad.
“Last year, G7 humanitarian funding support achieved life-saving results in the fight against hunger. Millions of people received much needed support and countries like Somalia were pulled back from the brink of famine. Unfortunately, the global food crisis hasn’t gone away. And situations like Sudan and Haiti are adding fuel to the fire,” said new WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain.
Fighting in Sudan has displaced hundreds of thousands of people and pushed millions into hunger. WFP estimates that between 2 and 2.5 million additional people will become acutely food insecure in coming months as a direct result of ongoing fighting, taking the total in the country to a record 19 million.
In Haiti, hunger is tightening its grip as insecurity, violence and deepening economic woes drive food insecure Haitians further into crisis. A record 4.9 million people in the country are estimated to be facing acute hunger, around 45% of the population.
Similarly, in the Sahel region of Africa, new outbreaks of violence in places such as Burkina Faso are driving hunger among fleeing populations as well as those whose lives and livelihoods have been upended by conflict.
WFP calls on G7 countries to continue funding food assistance for the hundreds of millions of people affected by the global food crisis and the millions new to hunger since last year.
It is also calling for political support for other actions which would help ease the crisis These include working for the continuation of the Black Sea Grain Initiative, ensuring adequate supplies of fertilizer and supporting programmes to increase smallholder farmers’ production.
Longer term requests centre on the need to make vulnerable populations more resilient. They include a renewed focus on social protection for communities at risk and ensuring every child in need receives a nutritious meal in school daily.
At the G7 summit in Germany last year, leaders stated they would “spare no effort to increase global food and nutrition security” and to protect the most vulnerable. They also committed to strengthen the long-term resilience of agriculture and food systems so that poor countries would be less vulnerable in the future.
Conflict remains one of the main drivers of global hunger. Events in Sudan are just the latest example of how food insecurity rises when guns come out. WFP asks G7 countries to “work toward political solutions to protracted crises where conflict is the primary driver of hunger.”
Apr. 2023
WFP chief appeals for greater funding support to address rising hunger
The World Food Program needs $23 billion to feed millions facing hunger and help avert starvation, destabilization of countries and mass migration, outgoing Executive Director David Beasley warned last week. China, oil-rich countries in the Middle East and billionaires whose wealth climbed amid the pandemic must all increase their support for the WFP as global hunger climbs and the Ukraine war distracts donors from other crises, Beasley says.
In an interview Mr. Beasley said he’s “extremely worried” that WFP won’t raise about $23 billion it needs this year to help people in desperate need of support. “Right at this stage, I’ll be surprised if we get 40% of it, quite frankly,” he said.
Last year, the World Food Program raised $14.2 billion from donors, to help 128 million people in more than 120 countries and territories.
David Beasley said he was able to convince the United States last year to increase its funding and Germany to raise its contribution, but he doesn’t think they’ll do it again this year. Other countries need to step up now, he said, starting with China, the world’s second-largest economy which gave WFP just $11 million last year.
Beasley applauded China for its success in substantially reducing hunger and poverty at home, but said China needs “to engage in the multilateral world” and be willing to provide help that is critical. “We need their help, particularly in poorer countries including in Africa".
With high oil prices Gulf countries can also do more, especially Muslim nations that have relations with countries in east Africa, the Sahara and elsewhere in the Middle East, he said, calling on them to increase their contributions.
Mr. Beasley said the wealthiest billionaires made unprecedented profits during the COVID-19 pandemic, and “it’s not too much to ask multibillionaires to step up and help in the crisis”.
“The world has to understand that the next 12 to 18 months is critical, and if we back off the funding, you will have mass migration, and you will have destabilization nations and that will all be on top of starvation among children and people around the world,” he warned.
Beasley said WFP was just forced to cut rations by 50% to 4 million people in Afghanistan, and “these are people who are knocking on famine’s door now.”
“We don’t have enough money just to reach the most vulnerable people now,” he said. “So we are in a crisis right now, where we literally could have hell on earth if we’re not very careful.”
The food crisis “is going to get worse,” he added. Climate change, the coronavirus pandemic and the war in Ukraine are all to blame, he said.
Among the 350 million people the United Nations classifies as suffering from acute food insecurity — 50 million people are “knocking on famine’s door,” Beasley said.
“That 50 million has got to get food, or otherwise they clearly will die,” he said.
Beasley said he’s been telling leaders in the West and Europe that while they’re focusing everything on Ukraine and Russia, “you better well not forget about what’s south and southeast of you because I can assure you it is coming your way if you don’t pay attention and get on top of it.”
The WFP executive director said leaders have to prioritize the humanitarian needs that are going to have the greatest impact on stability in societies around the world.
Beasley said “it’s hard not to get a little depressed at times by the overwhelming needs” but seeing little girls and boys smiling in the midst of war and suffering from hunger “inspires you not to give up,” he said.
With $400 trillion worth of wealth on the planet, he said, there’s no reason for any child to die of starvation.
* BBC interview with David Beasley:

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