The number of people falling into acute food insecurity rose by 80 percent since 2016, with close to 193 million people acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance across 53 countries/territories, according to the findings of the Global Network Against Food Crisis 2022.
Stating that nearly 40 million people were under the food insecurity graph when compared with 2020, the report said that over half a million people (570 000) in Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen were classified in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5) and required urgent action to avert widespread collapse of livelihoods, starvation and death.
In the foreword, United Nations Secretary General Antnio Guterres said the war in Ukraine is supercharging a three-dimensional crisis – food, energy and finance — with devastating impacts on the world’s most vulnerable people, countries and economies.
“Together, we can build a safer, more resilient and inclusive world – and banish the scourge of famine and starvation once and for all. But we must act now,” he said,
A GRIM OUTLOOK FOR 2002
For most of the world’s major food crises, acute food insecurity is expected to persist at similar levels to 2021 or increase, the report stated. “Major deteriorations are anticipated in northern Nigeria, Yemen, Burkina Faso and the Niger due to conflict, as well as in Kenya, South Sudan and Somalia, largely due to the impact of consecutive seasons of below-average rains,” it said. Though significant uncertainty exists, an estimated 2.5-4.99 million people in Ukraine will likely need humanitarian assistance in the near term, it added.
CLOSER LOOK AT 2021
In 2021, almost 40 million people were facing Emergency or worse (IPC/CH Phase 4 or above conditions, across 36 countries. Of critical concern were over half a million of people (570 000) facing Catastrophe (IPCCH Phase 5) starvation and death – in four countries: Ethiopia, South Sudan, southern Madagascar and Yemen. The number of people facing these dire conditions is four times that observed in 2020 and seven times higher than in 2016. During the first half of 2021, localized areas in South Sudan continued to face Famine Likely (IPC Phase 5). An additional 236 million people were in Stressed (IPC/CH Phase 2) across 41 countries/territories in 2021 and required livelihood support and assistance for disaster risk reduction to prevent them from slipping into worse levels of acute food security. Almost 10 percent of the total number of people in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or equivalent were found in ten food crisis countries/territories: the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Yemen, northern Nigeria, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Sudan, South Sudan, Pakistan, and Haiti.
KEY DRIVERS BEHIND RISING ACUTE FOOD INSECURITY
- Conflict (main driver pushing 139 million people in 24 countries/territories into acute food insecurity, up from around 99 million in 23 countries/territories in 2020);
- Weather extremes (over 23 million people in 8 countries/territories, up from 15.7 million in 15 countries/territories);
- Economic shocks – (over 30 million people in 21 countries/territories, down from over 40 million people in 17 countrie/territories in 2020 mainly due to the fallout from the COVD-19 pandemic)
Commissioner for Interactional Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “Russia’s invasion of Ukraine jeopardizes global food security. The international community must act to avert the largest food crisis in history and the social, economic, and political upheaval that could follow. The EU is committed to address all drivers of food insecurity: conflict, climate change, poverty and inequalities. While it is necessary to provide immediate assistance to save lives and prevent famine, we must continue to help partner countries in transition to sustainable agri-food systems and resilient supply chains by tapping the full potential of the Green Deal and the Global Gateway.
FAO Director-GeneralQU Dongyu mentioned that the tragic link between conflict and food insecurity is once again evident and alarming. “While the international community has courageously stepped up to the calls for urgent famine prevention and mitigation action, resource mobilization to efficiently tackle the root causes of food crises due to, among others, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, global hotspots and the war in Ukraine, still struggles to match the growing needs. The results of this year’s Global Report further demonstrate the need to collectively address acute food insecurity at the global level across humanitarian, development and peace contexts,” he said.
THE WAY FORWARD
- The international community must anticipate and act to mitigate the severe consequences of those already experiencing the highest levels of acute food insecurity, as well as of those in food stress.
- Increase action to protect lives and livelihoods and support sustainable food systems and production where it is needed most.
- Provide support to farmers to raise their productivity and improve their access to markets, and to rural communities to diversify their livelihoods and enhance their resilience to shocks is crucial mobilize investments
- Political will needed to collectively address the causes and consequences of escalating food crises across humanitarian, development and peace perspectives.