People's Stories Poverty

Hunger Hotspots: FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity
by WFP, Food & Agriculture Organization
June 2024
The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are calling for urgent humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods and prevent starvation and death in 18 hotspots – comprising a total of 17 countries and one regional cluster of four countries (drought-affected Malawi, Mozambique, Zambia and Zimbabwe) - where acute hunger is at a high risk of worsening from June to October 2024.
The report spotlights the urgent need of assistance to prevent the further deterioration in the devastating hunger crises in Gaza, Sudan, Haiti, Mali, and South Sudan. It also warns of further climate extremes upending lives and livelihoods.
The report highlights that many hunger hotspots face growing hunger crises with the worrying multiplier effect that simultaneous and overlapping shocks are having on acute food insecurity.
Conflict, climate extremes, and economic shocks continue to drive vulnerable households into food crises. Declining humanitarian funding is failing to meet urgent humanitarian assistance needs.
The ongoing conflict in Palestine is expected to further aggravate already catastrophic levels of acute hunger, with starvation and death already taking place, alongside the unprecedented death toll, widespread destruction and displacement of nearly the total population of the Gaza Strip – the report warns.
In mid-March 2024, famine was projected to occur by the end of May in the two northern governorates of the Gaza Strip, unless hostilities ended, full access was granted to humanitarian agencies, and essential services were restored. Over one million people – half the population of Gaza – are expected to face death and starvation (IPC Phase 5) by mid-July.
The report also warns of broader regional ramifications of the crisis, which risk exacerbating the already high food security needs in Lebanon and the Syrian Arab Republic.
Conflict and displacement also continue at an alarming pace and magnitude in the Sudan, where time is running out to save lives and the lean season looms – the report warns. The outlook for food production is bleak, and there is a rapidly shrinking window to support farmers before the main planting season ends and the rains begin, limiting access to the hardest-hit communities.
18 million people are acutely food insecure, including 3.6 million children acutely malnourished, and famine is rapidly closing in on millions of people in Darfur, Kordofan, Al Jazirah and Khartoum as recently stated by Principals of the Inter-Agency Standing Committee.
The crisis – now in its second year – is home to the largest number of internally displaced people in the world at nearly 10 million.
A further two million people have fled across borders, deepening the burden on neighbouring countries hosting a steadily growing number of refugees and returnees – especially in South Sudan and Chad, where existing hunger crises are deepening by the spillover from the deadly conflict in the Sudan.
In Haiti, in the midst of a protracted economic crisis, violence linked to non-state armed groups have disrupted food supplies and forced over 362,000 people to flee their homes and abandon their livelihoods – including farmland - amid continued uncertainties about the timing of the deployment of a Multinational Security Support Mission.
The report warns that critical levels of food insecurity and malnutrition risk worsening further, with the threat of catastrophic conditions reemerging, especially in areas where humanitarian access is limited by gang violence.
In Mali, already critical and catastrophic levels of acute food insecurity are likely to further increase, driven primarily by an intensification of conflict and compounded by the full withdrawal of the UN Multidimensional Integrated Stabilization Mission in Mali.
In South Sudan, the number of people facing starvation and death is projected to almost double between April and July 2024, compared to the same period in 2023. Tight domestic food supplies and sharp currency depreciation are driving food prices to soar, compounded by likely floods and recurrent waves of subnational conflict. A projected further rise of returnees and refugees from the Sudan is likely to increase acute food insecurity among both new arrivals and host communities.
The previous Hunger Hotspots report from 2023 warned of the threat posed by El Nino weather pattern and associated extreme climatic events that put millions of people at risk of hunger and malnutrition. As the El Nino episode comes to an end, it is evident that its impact was severe and widespread – including devastating drought in Southern Africa and extensive floods in East Africa.
This edition of the report warns that La Nina weather conditions are expected to prevail between August 2024 and February 2025, significantly influencing rainfall distribution and temperatures. The shift in climate could have major implications for several hotspots, including risk of floods in parts of South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Haiti, Chad, Mali and Nigeria, as well as the Sudan.
Meanwhile, the Caribbean is bracing for an extremely active Atlantic hurricane season. The report warns that due to the uncertainty of current forecasts, continuous monitoring will be vital.
According to the report, Mali, Palestine, South Sudan and the Sudan remain at the highest alert level and require the urgent attention. Haiti was added to the list due to escalating violence and threats to food security. Conflict is the primary driver of hunger in all these areas.
All hotspots of the highest concern 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.
Chad, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen are hotspots of very high concern, with 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.
Since the previous edition of the Hunger Hotspots report (October 2023), the Central African Republic, Lebanon, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone and Zambia have joined Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Somalia and Zimbabwe in the list of hunger hotspots, where acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further during the outlook period.
The report provides country-specific recommendations on priorities for anticipatory action and immediate emergency response to address existing and emerging needs to save lives and ensure predictable hazards do not become full-blown humanitarian disasters. Immediate humanitarian action delivered at scale will be critical to prevent further starvation and death in countries most at risk.

Visit the related web page

Over 280 million people in 59 countries experiencing high levels of acute hunger
by Global Network Against Food Crises
Apr. 2024
Dangerous levels of acute hunger affected at least 281.6 million people last year – the fifth year in a row that food insecurity has worsened – heightening growing fears of famine and “widespread death” from Gaza to Sudan and beyond.
According to the latest Global Report on Food Crises, more than one in five people in 59 countries faced acute food insecurity in 2023.
“When we talk about acute food insecurity, we are talking about hunger so severe that it poses an immediate threat to people's livelihoods and lives. This is hunger that threatens to slide into famine and cause widespread death,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office in Geneva.
Food crises escalated alarmingly in 2023, the report’s authors noted, citing particular concerns over Gaza and Sudan today “where people are clearly dying of hunger”, said Gian Carlo Cirri, WFP Director, Geneva office.
After nearly seven months of conflict in Gaza, “people cannot meet even the most basic, food needs. They have exhausted all coping strategies. They are destitute and clearly some are dying of hunger,” Mr. Cirri said.
"The only way to halt the famine is to ensure daily deliveries of food supplies in a very short time. Like tomorrow, we really need to significantly increase our food supplies. This means rolling out massive and consistent food assistance in conditions that allow humanitarian staff and supplies to move freely and for affected people to access safely the assistance.”
“We are getting closer by the day to a famine situation. We estimate 30 per cent of children below the age of two are now acutely malnourished or wasted and 70 per cent of the population in the north is facing catastrophic hunger,” WFP’s Mr. Cirri said. “There is reasonable evidence that all three famine thresholds – food insecurity, malnutrition, mortality – will be passed in the next six weeks.”
On Sudan, the UN report notes that 20.3 million people – or 42 per cent of the population – struggled to find enough to eat last year, after conflict erupted in April. This represents the highest number of people in the world facing “emergency” levels of acute food insecurity, or phase four, in line with the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification warning scale, where phase five (IPC5) indicates the highest level of danger.
The report also warned that people in South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Somalia and Mali likely endured the worst levels of food insecurity – IPC 5 – in 2023.
Data was not available for some countries where there have been enduring fears over food crises, including Ethiopia, the report’s authors noted, while also pointing out that in Haiti, thousands of people were identified as IPC5 from September 2022 to February 2023.
39 countries faced emergency – IPC4 – levels of acute food insecurity last year, including Sudan, Afghanistan, Nigeria and Yemen.
“Households in this severe situation face large food gaps, which are either reflected in high acute malnutrition rates and excess mortality,” the Global Report on Food Crises noted.
Children and women are among those at the forefront of the hunger crises, with over 36 million children under 5 years of age acutely malnourished across 32 countries, the report shows. Acute malnutrition worsened among people displaced because of conflict and disasters in 2023.
Drivers of food crises
Intensifying conflict and insecurity, the impacts of economic shocks, and the effects of extreme weather events are continuing to drive acute food insecurity. These interlinked drivers are exacerbating food systems fragility, rural marginalization, poor governance, and inequality, and lead to massive displacement of populations globally. The protection situation of displaced population is additionally impacted by food insecurity.
Conflict remained the primary driver affecting 20 countries with nearly 135 million people in acute food insecurity – almost half of the global number. The Sudan faced the largest deterioration due to conflict, with 8.6 million more people facing high levels of acute food insecurity as compared with 2022.
Extreme weather events were the primary drivers in 18 countries where over 77 million people faced high levels of acute food insecurity, up from 12 countries with 57 million people in 2022. In 2023, the world experienced its hottest year on record and climate related shocks impacted populations, with episodes of severe floods, storms, droughts, wildfires, and pest and disease outbreaks.
Economic shocks primarily affected 21 countries where around 75 million people were facing high levels of acute food insecurity, due to their high dependency on imported food and agricultural inputs, persisting macroeconomic challenges, including currency depreciation, high prices and high debt levels.
Tackling food crises requires urgent long-term national and international investment to boost agricultural and rural development alongside greater crisis preparedness and critical lifesaving assistance at scale, where people need it most.
Peace and prevention must also become an integral part of the longer-term food systems transformation. Without this, people will continue to face a lifetime of hunger and the most vulnerable will starve.
Since 2023, needs have outpaced available resources. Humanitarian operations are now desperately overstretched, with many being forced to scale-down and further cut support to the most vulnerable.
More equitable and effective global economic governance is imperative and must be matched with government led plans that seek to reduce and end hunger.
The Global Network Against Food Crises urgently calls for a transformative approach that integrates peace, prevention and development action alongside at-scale emergency efforts to break the cycle of acute hunger which remains at unacceptably high levels.

Visit the related web page

View more stories

Submit a Story Search by keyword and country Guestbook