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238 million people across 48 food crisis countries face high levels of acute food insecurity
by GFRC, FAO, World Food Program, agencies
Sep. 2023
The Global Report on Food Crises (GFRC) 2023, in its mid-year update confirms the disheartening reality of the world's food crisis. As conflicts, economic shocks, and extreme weather events continue to wreak havoc alongside persisting vulnerabilities, millions of people continue to suffer from hunger and malnutrition.
The updated report provides the latest data on acute food insecurity for 2023, building on the May 2023 edition, which laid down the data for 2022. The new report covers the period from January to August 2023 and provides new updates on the state of acute food insecurity.
The mid-year update of the GRFC presents some stark statistics:
Almost 238 million people across 48 food crisis countries faced high levels of acute food insecurity as of early August 2023, affecting nearly 1 in 5 individuals of the analysed population, a similar proportion as the one observed in 2022.
The 10 worst food crisis countries in this report are the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Nigeria, Sudan, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Yemen, Bangladesh, Pakistan, South Sudan and Somalia. Myanmar, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Ukraine, which were among the 10 hardest hit countries in 2022, have not been included in the mid-year update due to insufficient data on acute food insecurity in 2023.
East Africa remains the worst-hit food crisis region, with nearly 65 million people facing high levels of acute food insecurity (an increase of 8 million people since 2022), primarily due to the ongoing conflict in Sudan, which has displaced 3.5 million people since April.
Some countries have shown improvements in acute food insecurity conditions between 2022 and August 2023. Sri Lanka and Niger recorded the most substantial reductions, with 2.4 and 1.1 million people respectively experiencing improved conditions.
In the 21 food crisis countries where data was available, approximately 27.2 million children under the age of five suffered from acute malnutrition by August 2023. Of these, 7.2 million were severely malnourished and in urgent need of treatment.
Drivers of acute food insecurity
The mid-year update report identifies three main types of shock that, when combined with a high proportion of vulnerable populations in food crisis countries, serve as the main drivers of acute food insecurity. These shocks are conflict / insecurity, economic related shocks and weather extremes.
Conflict and insecurity: remains the leading driver of food insecurity, impacting eight out of the 10 worst-hit food crisis countries. Additionally, Russia’s decision to terminate the Black Sea Grain Initiative has raised uncertainty on global food market prices in the coming months. The recent coup d'etat in the Niger is expected to reverse the recent food security improvements at country level and further exacerbate acute food insecurity in the wider region.
Economic shocks: Despite slightly lower global food prices in 2022, high food prices in domestic markets continue to affect populations. Particularly in low-income countries, high levels of public debt further limit governments’ ability to import food and mitigate the impact of high food prices on vulnerable populations. Economic shocks are now driving acute food insecurity across all regions.
Weather extremes: These have been a key driver of acute food insecurity in all regions except West Africa, the Middle East, and North Africa. The impending El Niño event sets the stage for increased global temperatures and more intense weather extremes over the next nine to 12 months.
This mid-year update of the Global Report on Food Crises 2023 underscores the urgent need for international cooperation and concerted efforts to address the root causes of hunger and malnutrition. Collaboration amongst agencies is imperative to provide immediate relief to those in need while striving for long-term solutions to mitigate the impact of these crises.
June 2023
Acute food insecurity is set to increase in magnitude and severity in 18 hunger "Hotspots" comprising a total of 22 countries, a new UN early warning report has found.
The report spotlights the risk of a spill-over of the Sudan crisis - raising the risk of negative impacts in neighbouring countries, shows that deepening economic shocks continue to drive low- and middle-income nations deeper into crisis, and warns that a likely El Nino climatic phenomenon is raising fears of climate extremes in vulnerable countries around the globe.
The report also found that many hotspots are facing growing hunger and highlights the worrying multiplier effect that simultaneous and overlapping shocks are having on acute food insecurity. Conflict, climate extremes, and economic shocks continue to drive more and more communities into crisis.
The report, 'Hunger Hotspots - FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity issued today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) calls for urgent humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods and prevent starvation and death in hotspots where acute hunger is at a high risk of worsening from June to November 2023.
"Not only are more people in more places around the world going hungry, but the severity of the hunger they face is worse than ever," said Carl Skau, deputy executive director of the World Food Program.
"This report makes it clear: we must act now to save lives, help people adapt to a changing climate, and ultimately prevent famine. If we don't, the results will be catastrophic," Mr Skau warned.
"Business-as-usual pathways are no longer an option, if we want ensure that no one is left behind." said QU Dongyu, FAO Director-General. "We need to provide immediate interventions to pull people from the brink of hunger, help them rebuild their lives, and provide long-term solutions to address the root causes of food insecurity," he added.
The report warns of a major risk of El Nino conditions, which meteorologists forecast to emerge by mid-2023 with an 82 percent probability. The expected shift in climate patterns will have significant implications for several hotspots, including below-average rains in the Dry Corridor of Central America, and raises the spectre of consecutive extreme climatic events hitting areas of the Sahel and the Horn of Africa.
The spill-over from the crisis in the Sudan is driving massive population displacement and hunger among people forced from their homes in search of refuge and those hosting them -- the report warns. More than one million people are expected to flee the country while an additional 2.5 million inside the Sudan set to face acute hunger in coming months.
Sudan was already hosting over one million refugees -- and if the conflict persists hundreds of thousands are likely to return to their counties of origin -- many of which are already in the grips of underfunded and protracted refugee crises, compounded by social, political and economic stressors.
Supply routes for commercial and relief goods in and out of Port Sudan are being disrupted by insecurity, putting in jeopardy humanitarian assistance flows and regional relief efforts, the report notes.
Disruptions to trade, cross-border commercial activities, and supply chains risk also driving up prices and inflation and depleting foreign exchange reserves in several countries -- particularly in South Sudan -- a country that relies on Port Sudan for both commercial and humanitarian imports, as well as vital oil exports.
The report warns that displacement into neighbouring countries and disruptions to trade risk also driving tensions among displaced people, those hosting them and new arrivals, as many hard-hit countries are already grappling with significant numbers of displaced people competing for limited livelihood and labour opportunities -- particularly Chad and South Sudan - where fragile sociopolitical environments are at risk of deteriorating.
Economic shocks and stressors continue to drive acute hunger in almost all hotspots, reflecting global trends that are carrying over from 2022 when economic risks were driving hunger in more countries and for more people than conflict was. These risks are largely linked to the socioeconomic fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and the ripple effect from the war in Ukraine.
2023 is expected to bring a global economic slowdown amid monetary tightening in high-income countries -- increasing the cost of credit, weakening local currencies, and further exacerbating the debt crisis in low- and middle-income economies.
The International Monetary Fund projects global GDP growth at 2.8 percent in 2023 -- the lowest level in ten years besides the COVID-19 induced plunge in 2020. Sub-Saharan Africa GDP will also grow 0.3 percent less than in 2022. Low- and middle- income countries are expected to be hit the hardest by the projected slow growth in their main export markets, alongside inflation rate hikes in high-income economies that will rely heavily on exports to advanced economies.
With global food prices likely to remain elevated compared with historical standards in coming months, macroeconomic pressures in low- and middle-income countries are unlikely to ease. This means that the subsequent drop in purchasing power will negatively affect families' access to food in coming months in many hotspots.
Key Findings
According to the report, Afghanistan, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen remain at the highest alert level. Haiti, the Sahel (Burkina Faso and Mali) and Sudan have been elevated to the highest concern levels; this is due to severe movement restrictions to people and goods in Burkina Faso, Haiti and Mali, and the recent outbreak of conflict in the Sudan.
All hotspots at the highest level have communities facing or projected to face starvation, or are at risk of sliding towards catastrophic conditions, given they have already emergency levels of food insecurity and are facing severe aggravating factors. These hotspots require the most urgent attention, the report warns.
The Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo,Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan and Syria are hotspots with very high concern, and the alert is also extended to Myanmar in this edition. All these hotspots have a large number of people facing critical acute food insecurity, coupled with worsening drivers that are expected to further intensify life‑threatening conditions in the coming months. Lebanon has been added to the list of hotspots, joining Malawi and Central America (El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua) that remain hotspots.
Scaling up humanitarian action to prevent disasters
To avert a further deterioration of acute hunger and malnutrition, the report provides country-specific recommendations on priorities for immediate emergency response to save lives, prevent famine and protect livelihoods, as well as anticipatory action.
Humanitarian action will be critical in preventing starvation and death -- particularly in the highest alert hotspots, but the report notes how humanitarian access is constrained by insecurity, bureaucratic barriers, and movement restrictions - posing a major challenge to humanitarian responders around the globe.
The report also stresses the importance of strengthening anticipatory action in humanitarian and development assistance - ensuring predictable hazards do not become full-blown humanitarian disasters.
* FAO: El Nino: Anticipatory Action and Response Plan, August–December 2023 - Mitigating the expected impacts of El Nino-induced climate extremes on agriculture and food security.
Many countries facing humanitarian crises also risk being affected by El Nino impacts in the coming weeks and months. The last El Nino in 2015-2016 severely affected more than 60 million people, causing 23 countries to appeal for international humanitarian assistance totalling USD 5 billion. By disrupting rainfall and temperature patterns, El Nino may strongly impact agriculture, rural livelihoods and food security.

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Civil Society Organizations call on Public Development Banks to change the way development is done
by Forus, IPS UN Bureau
Sep. 2023
In the midst of a complex web of crises, spanning climate change, biodiversity depletion, constraints on civic space and mounting debt burdens, civil society organizations and human rights defenders from over 50 countries have united their voices to call for immediate and impactful action from Public Development Banks (PDBs).
The global coalition’s message is clear: when it comes to financing for development, principles of rights, justice, sustainability, transparency, accountability and dignity for all cannot remain mere slogans. They must form the core of all projects undertaken by all Public Development Banks.
The Finance in Common Summit has become a pivotal platform for Public Development Banks from around the world. The fact that this year’s summit is taking place in Cartagena, Colombia, the deadliest country in the world in 2022 for human rights, envrionmental and indigenous activists, development banks must acknowledge and integrate the protection of human rights into their projects.
“Development banks are advocating to play an even bigger role in the global economy. But are they truly fit for this purpose? Unfortunately, the stories of communities around the world show us that development banks are failing to address the root causes of the very problems they claim to solve. We need to hold them accountable for this,” says Ivahanna Larrosa, Regional Coordinator for Latin America at the Coalition for Human Rights in Development.
“When PDB projects cause harm to people and the environment, PDBs must remedy these harms. All PDBs should implement an effective accountability mechanism to address concerns with projects and should commit to preventing and fully remediating any harm to communities,” adds Stephanie Amoako, Senior Policy Associate at Accountability Counsel.
The ongoing crises demand a transformation in the quality of financing and a power shift to include the voices of communities. The existing financial architecture not only impedes governments’ ability to safeguard both their citizens and the environment but also contributes to the escalating issue of chronic indebtedness. Policy-based lending and conditionalities enforced by International Financial Institutions have steered countries toward privatization of essential services, reduced social spending and preferential treatment for the private sector. This burdens the population with higher taxes, inflation, and weakened social safety nets.
“The same multinational companies that have polluted and violated human rights in Latin America are now obtaining financing from development banks for energy transition projects. Another example is the development of the green hydrogen industry in Chile, which carries a very high environmental and social risk,” says Maia Seeger, director of the Chilean civil society organization Sustentarse.
Addressing these issues requires a comprehensive and sustainable transformation of the financial architecture as well as holistic reforms and synergies with civil society and communities. Environmental and neo-colonial debts need to be a thing of the past and equitable reforms the thing of the present.
Global civil society, in response to these challenges, demands bold and decisive actions in a collective declaration signed by over 100 organisations. The demands are the result of a 4-year process in which a coalition of civil society organisations has come together to call on all PDBs at the Finance in Common Summit to embrace tangible actions that genuinely prioritize and protect people.
Just last month we have seen that change is possible when communities are involved, as the people of Ecuador voted to ban oil drilling in one of the most biodiverse places on the planet, the Yasuní National Park in the Amazon rainforest.
“The global financial system needs not just a rethink but a surgical operation, and that requires bold action. Governments and institutions such as the Public Development Banks must cancel the debt of the countries that require it and put in place concrete and immediate measures to put an end to public financing of fossil fuels, to have financing based on subsidies so as not to fall into the debt trap once again. It is time for the rich countries, the biggest polluters and creditors, to offer real solutions to the multiple crises we are currently experiencing,” says Gaia Febvre, International Policy Coordinator at Reseau Action climat France.
“Public and Multilateral Development Banks must divest from funding false climate solutions and projects that harm forests, biodiversity and communities. Instead, they should redirect finance to support gender just, rights based and ecosystems approaches that contribute to transformative changes leading to real solutions that address climate change, loss of biodiversity and create sustainable livelihoods for Indigenous Peoples, women in all their diversities and local communities.
Public funds must support community governed agroecological practices, small scale farming and traditional animal rearing practices instead of large scale agri-business which perpetuates highly polluting and emitting industrial agriculture and unsustainable livestock production, the root cause for deforestation and food insecurity,” adds Souparna Lahiri, Senior Climate and Biodiversity Policy Advisor at the Global Forest Coalition (GFC).
The call to action emphasizes that achieving the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), effective climate action aligned with the Paris Agreement and successful implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Global Biodiversity Framework require Public Development Banks to pivot from a top-down profit-driven approach to one that prioritizes community-led involvement and human rights-based approaches.
“It is important that civil society participation be strengthened at the Finance in Common Summit (FICS). In previous years, civil society has been sidelined. Clearly, there is still some room for improvement for civil society participation to become truly meaningful. The lack of civil society representative on the opening panel this year is just one example of that. PDBs should promote and support an enabling environment for civil society and systematically incorporate civic space, human rights and gender analysis.
This year, we are working towards ensuring that civil society voices, including those from communities are heard at the FICS. In collaboration with the FICS Secretariat, Forus seeks to establish a formal mechanism between civil society and PDBs and to ensure that civil society is recognised as an official engagement group,” says Marianne Buenaventura Goldman, Project Coordinator, Finance for Development at the global civil society network Forus.

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