258 million people in 58 countries faced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels in 2022
by 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.
http://www.fsinplatform.org/global-report-food-crises-2023 http://www.fsinplatform.org/report/global-report-food-crises-2023/ http://bit.ly/3Ny02P6 http://www.ipcinfo.org/ipc-country-analysis/en/?maptype=77106 http://www.wfp.org/news/global-report-food-crises-number-people-facing-acute-food-insecurity-rose-258-million-58
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Globally, poverty and food insecurity are both on the rise
by Global Humanitarian Overview 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: http://www.bbc.co.uk/sounds/play/w3ct4ny4
http://www.wfp.org/countries http://dataviz.vam.wfp.org/version2/ http://www.ipcinfo.org/ipcinfo-website/resources/alerts-archive/en/
Arif Husain, Chief Economist and Director of Research at the World Food Program:
“A year into the war in Ukraine, international prices of food, fuel and fertilizer remain way too expensive for hundreds of millions of people worldwide”.
Prices today compared to right before COVID in 2020 (Source IMF):
Food Price Index: +32% more expensive today than right before COVID in 2020; Fertilizer Index: +207% more expensive; Crude Oil (Petroleum) Price Index: +31% more expensive; Natural Gas Price Index: +233% more expensive; Maize: +81% more expensive; Rice: +21% more expensive; Wheat: +94% more expensive, Sunflower: +54% more expensive; U.S. Dollar Index: +5% more expensive
In a joint Statement, the Heads of the World Food Programme, Food and Agriculture Organization, International Monetary Fund, World Bank Group, and World Trade Organization described the Global Food and Nutrition Security Crisis.
"Globally, poverty and food insecurity are both on the rise. Supply chain disruptions, climate change, the COVID-19 pandemic, financial tightening through rising interest rates and the Russia’s war in Ukraine have caused an unprecedented shock to the global food system, with the most vulnerable hit the hardest.
Food inflation remains high in the world, with dozens of countries experiencing double digit inflation. According to WFP, 349 million people across 79 countries are acutely food insecure.
The prevalence of undernourishment is also on the rise, following three years of deterioration. This situation is expected to worsen, with global food supplies projected to drop to a three-year low in 2022/2023. The need is especially dire in 24 countries that FAO and WFP have identified as hunger hotspots, of which 16 are in Africa.
Fertilizer affordability as defined by the ratio between food prices and fertilizer prices is also the lowest since the 2007/2008 food crisis, which is leading to lower food production and impacting smallholder farmers the hardest, worsening the already high local food prices. For example, the reduction in 2022 of the production of rice, for which Africa is the largest importer in the world, coupled with prospects of lower stocks, is of grave concern".
http://www.wfp.org/publications/wfp-global-operational-response-plan-update-7-february-2023 http://www.wfp.org/stories/wfp-and-fao-sound-alarm-global-food-crisis-tightens-its-grip-hunger-hotspots http://www.wfp.org/publications/hunger-hotspots-fao-wfp-early-warnings-acute-food-insecurity-october-2022-january-2023 http://www.wfp.org/stories/child-malnutrition-mounts-un-agencies-issue-call-action http://www.wfp.org/global-hunger-crisis http://www.ipcinfo.org/ipc-country-analysis/en/ http://www.fao.org/giews/country-analysis/external-assistance/en/
The largest global food crisis in modern history is unfolding, driven by conflict, climate shocks and the looming threat of global recession. Hundreds of millions of people are at risk of worsening hunger. Acute food insecurity is escalating, and at least 222 million people across 53 countries are expected to face acute food insecurity and need urgent assistance by the end of 2022.
There is also a gender dimension, with women more likely to be affected by hunger. In 2021, nearly 32 per cent of women in the world were moderately or severely food insecure, compared to nearly 28 per cent of men.
Starvation is a very real risk for 45 million people in 37 countries. As of October 2022, 989,000 people were already in Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5): 301,000 of them were in Somalia, the remainder in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti (which recorded populations in IPC Phase 5 for the first time), South Sudan and Yemen.
On top of this, 60 million children worldwide are at risk of being acutely malnourished by the end of 2022, compared to 47 million in 2019.
Countries facing catastrophic levels of hunger
Afghanistan is facing an unprecedented hunger crisis due to the combination of a collapsing economy, high food prices and persistent drought. Nearly 19 million people – 45 per cent of the population – are facing high levels of acute food insecurity between June and November 2022 – 6 million of them are in Emergency (IPC Phase 4). They include, for the first time since the introduction of IPC in Afghanistan, 20,000 people who are already facing Catastrophic conditions (IPC Phase 5) between March and May 2022 due to limited humanitarian access.
In Ethiopia, the effects of ongoing violence and conflict in 2022 are being compounded by one of the most severe droughts in the last 40 years. More than 20 million people are estimated to be food insecure in the country, including 13 million people in northern Ethiopia. The lack of updated IPC data remains a major concern. The latest available IPC projections were valid up to September 2021, indicating around 401,000 people in Tigray faced Catastrophic conditions (IPC Phase 5).
As of October 2022, Haiti recorded people experiencing Catastrophic levels of food insecurity for the first time: 4.7 million people are currently facing acute hunger (IPC Phase 3 and above), of whom 19,000 are in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5). Natural hazards continue to deliver shocks to an already vulnerable population, which is also facing a stalled economy, poor job prospects and a basic food basket that is out of reach for many Haitians.
In Somalia, an anticipated fifth consecutive season of poor rainfall, exceptionally high food prices, conflict, insecurity and disease outbreaks are causing dire conditions. Famine (IPC Phase 5) is projected among rural residents in Baidoa and Burhakaba districts and among displaced people in Baidoa town of Bay Region in southern Somalia, where malnutrition and mortality are already at alarming levels.
Between October and December 2022, approximately 6.7 million people across Somalia are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above). This number includes 2.2 million people who are expected to be in Emergency (IPC Phase 4) and at least 301,000 people in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).
The situation in South Sudan remains alarming, with almost two thirds of the population in the most severe phases of acute food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above). While a significant scale-up in humanitarian response averted a famine-likely situation in 2021, at least 87,000 people are facing starvation and death (IPC Phase 5) as of October 2022.
In Yemen, earlier projections of 19 million people expected to be in acute food insecurity in the second half of 2022 may be less grim than anticipated. However, the country continues to experience acute levels of food insecurity. Economic crisis, a fragile truce that expired on 2 October, and elevated global commodity prices contribute to instability and hunger. Urgently needed assistance is complicated by increasing operational and food procurement costs, as well as supply shortages and access challenges.
Syria is home to 12 million food insecure people, equating to roughly 54 per cent of the country’s population. Among these people, 2.5 million are severely food insecure.
Conflict remains the key driver of acute food insecurity.
More than 70 per cent of people experiencing hunger live in areas afflicted by war and violence. In 2021, around 139 million people in 24 countries and territories affected by conflict and insecurity were facing Crisis levels of food insecurity or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above). In that same year, conflict was the key driver in three of the four countries with populations in Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5) – Ethiopia, South Sudan and Yemen.
Food prices have been rising at an alarming rate since mid-2020 and now remain at a 10-year high, despite declining slightly in recent months. These fluctuations are unlikely to curb domestic food inflation in countries facing a toxic combination of tumbling currency value and high inflation: 99 countries have had year-on-year food inflation of 10 per cent or more, with food inflation exceeding 15 per cent in 63 countries, making essential purchases unaffordable for many people.
Economic shocks were the main driver of food insecurity across 21 countries. A total of 30.2 million people in these countries were in Crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) in 2021, reflecting soaring food prices due to uneven global economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, high inflation and widespread supply chain disruptions. This was even more acutely felt in sub-Saharan Africa. For example, by the end of July 2022, prices of staple cereals had doubled in parts of South Sudan compared to February 2022.
When families do not have enough food to eat or enough money to buy food, they may resort to extreme coping mechanisms in order to acquire food, including family separation, child labour and child marriage.
The triple crisis: Food, fuel and fertilizer
The war in Ukraine – one of the world’s major breadbaskets – is compounding what is already a year of catastrophic hunger. Together, Ukraine and Russia supply 30 per cent of globally traded wheat, 20 per cent of maize and 70 per cent of sunflower supplies. A shortfall in export supplies is driving prices up, leaving import-dependent countries with higher food import bills – or less food to eat.
Since the crisis in Ukraine began, food shipments from the Black Sea have been reduced and costs have grown significantly, with immediate impact on import-dependent economies. In addition, fertilizer prices are increasing to record levels. This will significantly affect countries’ ability to grow food, increasing food insecurity far beyond 2022 levels.
Extreme climatic and weather events were the main drivers of acute food insecurity in eight African countries, with 23.5 million people in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above). In Madagascar, severe droughts pushed almost 14,000 people into Catastrophic levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 5) between April and September 2021.
As needs increase, so do operational costs to help people in need. Scaled-up funding for cash, food and livelihood assistance remains an urgent priority, especially as the global food crisis has not yet reached its peak.
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