“Acute hunger is skyrocketing to unprecedented levels and the global situation continues to worsen,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of the World Food Program (WFP).
The annual report of the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC), an international alliance of the UN, the European Union (EU), government and non-governmental agencies, highlights the urgency of addressing the root causes rather than just responding to the emergencies. after the event.
Acute hunger is skyrocketing to unprecedented levels: WFP chief
The report focuses on countries and territories where the severity of the food crisis is outstripping local resources and capacities.
It reveals that some 193 million people in 53 countries or territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis levels or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) in 2021, representing an increase of almost 40 million people compared to figures 2020 record.
Of these, 570,000 people in Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen were classified as being in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity, phase 5 “catastrophe”, and required urgent action to avert widespread media collapse. subsistence, hunger and death.
Looking at the same 39 countries or territories that appear in all editions of the report, the number of people facing Phase 3 levels or higher nearly doubled between 2016 and 2021, rising steadily each year since 2018.
“The results of this year’s Global Report further demonstrate the need to collectively address global acute food insecurity in the humanitarian, development and peace context,” said QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. Agriculture (FAO).
From conflicts to environmental and climate crises, from economic to health crises with poverty and inequality as constant causes, these worrying trends are the result of multiple factors that feed off each other.
Extreme weather events have paralyzed more than 23 million people in eight countries/territories, an increase of 15.7 million in 15 countries/territories.
And economic crises have affected more than 30 million people in 21 countries/territories, compared to more than 40 million people in 17 countries/territories in 2020, mainly due to the consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Main driver of the conflict
However, conflict remains the main driver of food insecurity, pushing 139 million across 24 countries/territories into acute food insecurity, up from around 99 million across 23 countries/territories in 2020.
“Conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and rising food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm,” Mr. Beasley said.
“Millions of people in dozens of countries are on the brink of starvation,” he added, calling for “urgently needed emergency funding to bring them back from the brink and reverse this global crisis before it’s too late.”
Repercussions in Ukraine
While the analysis predates the Russian invasion of Ukraine, the report finds that the war has already exposed the interconnected nature and fragility of global food systems, with dire consequences for global food and nutrition security.
Countries already facing high levels of acute hunger are particularly vulnerable to the risks created by the war in Eastern Europe, in particular due to their high dependence on imported food and agricultural inputs and their vulnerability to global price shocks. of food, says the report.
“The tragic link between conflict and food insecurity is once again apparent and alarming,” said Mr QU.
“While the international community has responded courageously to calls for urgent famine prevention and mitigation action, the mobilization of resources to efficiently address 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, it is still struggling to meet growing needs.”
A paradigm shift
The report’s findings demonstrate the need for greater prioritization of smallholder agriculture as a frontline humanitarian response.
In addition, it advocates promoting structural changes in current external financing, to reduce humanitarian assistance over time through longer-term development investments, which can help address the root causes of hunger.
In parallel, humanitarian assistance must be delivered more efficiently and sustainably.
“The situation calls for large-scale action to move towards integrated prevention, anticipation and better targeting approaches to sustainably address the root causes of food crises, including structural rural poverty, marginalization, population growth and poor food systems. fragile,” said the Global Network founding members, in a joint statement with the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the World Bank.