Table of Contents Show
- The Human Toll
- Drivers of the Global Food Crisis
- The 10 Countries Suffering Most From Hunger
- World Food Programme‘s Response to the Food Crisis
The world is currently facing an unprecedented global food crisis, a catastrophe of immense proportions. This crisis, the most significant in modern history, has reached horrifying levels of hunger. Despite the existence of the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) since 1963, we have never witnessed such dire circumstances. This crisis is characterized by a convergence of factors, including new conflicts, the relentless impacts of climate change, and soaring food and fuel prices, pushing millions perilously close to the brink of starvation.
The Human Toll
Approximately 350 million people worldwide are grappling with the most severe forms of hunger at this very moment. Among them, nearly 49 million teeter on the precipice of famine. These staggering statistics conceal the individual tragedies of children, women, and men who bear the brunt of this severe hunger. Malnourished mothers give birth to undernourished babies, perpetuating the cycle of hunger across generations. Children’s physical and cognitive growth is stunted, robbing them of their potential. Farmers struggle to produce enough food for their families and communities, while entire towns are forced to abandon their homes in search of sustenance.
Drivers of the Global Food Crisis
Three primary factors are driving this grim scenario: conflict, the climate crisis, and rising costs.
1. Conflict: Conflict is the foremost cause of hunger, wreaking havoc by destroying infrastructure, displacing populations, fueling inflation, and disrupting access to markets. These effects conspire to plunge communities into hunger, which, in turn, can ignite social unrest as people protest high prices or compete for dwindling resources.
2. Climate Crisis: Extreme weather events are becoming more frequent and severe, dealing devastating blows to agricultural production and sending shockwaves through local and global food systems. In 2021, climate extremes pushed 23.5 million people in eight African countries into the throes of acute hunger.
3. Rising Costs: Soaring food and fuel prices exacerbate the crisis by rendering nutritious foods unaffordable for many families, forcing them to subsist on meager diets.
The 10 Countries Suffering Most From Hunger
1) Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC)
- Number of people facing severe hunger: 26 million
- Primary drivers of hunger: Conflict and displacement
- Description: The DRC faces the world’s largest hunger crisis, driven by over 25 years of conflict and endemic poverty. In 2022, the situation was exacerbated by climate shocks, pest infestations, economic impacts, and an Ebola outbreak. The United Nations World Food Programme scaled up operations to reach 6.2 million people across the country.
2) Afghanistan Food Crisis
- Number of people facing severe hunger: 19.9 million
- Primary driver of hunger: Four decades of conflict
- Description: Following the withdrawal of international troops in August 2021, Afghanistan’s government collapsed, plunging nearly half of its population into severe hunger. The Taliban takeover and conflict disrupted essential services, leaving 4 million children and women severely malnourished.
- Number of people facing severe hunger: 17 million
- Primary driver of hunger: Civil war
- Description: Yemen has been embroiled in a complex civil war for eight years, leading to a humanitarian catastrophe. Between 2021 and 2022, the number of Yemenis facing severe hunger increased by over 1 million, reaching a record high of 17 million people. Malnutrition rates for women and children are among the world’s highest.
- Number of people facing severe hunger: 12 million
- Primary driver of hunger: Civil war
- Description: Twelve years of relentless conflict have pushed over 12 million Syrians into severe hunger, displacing nearly 13 million from their homes. Economic downturn, currency depreciation, and the lingering impacts of COVID-19 further intensify the crisis.
5) The Sahel
- Number of people facing severe hunger: 13 million (projected)
- Primary drivers of hunger: Armed conflict and climate extremes
- Description: The Sahel, located just below the Sahara Desert, has become one of the world’s worst hunger emergencies. Approximately 13 million people are projected to face crisis-level hunger across five Sahelian countries: Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, and Niger. Rising food prices, poverty, conflict, and climate shocks worsen the situation.
6) South Sudan
- Number of people facing severe hunger: 7.7 million
- Primary driver of hunger: Civil war and historic flooding
- Description: South Sudan faces record levels of hunger, with nearly 65% of the population experiencing a hunger crisis. Factors include increasing subnational violence, four consecutive years of flooding, and high food prices.
7) Sudan Food Crisis
- Number of people facing severe hunger: 15.8 million
- Drivers of hunger: Conflict and intercommunal violence, floods, and inflation
- Description: Hunger continues to rise relentlessly in Sudan due to political instability, conflict, displacement, climate shocks, and rising costs. Heavy rains and floods disrupted farmland in 2022, while ongoing conflict hindered access to farmland.
8) Somalia Food Crisis
- Number of people facing severe hunger: 6 million (projected)
- Primary drivers of hunger: Drought, civil war, and rising food prices
- Description: While famine has been kept at bay for now in Somalia, the food security situation remains critical. Over 6 million people are projected to face severe hunger, with prolonged drought and conflict pushing the country to the brink.
9) Northern Ethiopia
- Number of people facing severe hunger in the Tigray, Afar, and Amhara: 5.5 million
- Primary driver of hunger: Armed conflict
- Description: After two years of war, a peace agreement signed in November 2022 allowed for humanitarian access across northern Ethiopia. The conflict left millions in need of food and medicine, with the Tigray Region showing a dire situation.
- Number of people facing severe hunger: 4.7 million (projected)
- Primary drivers of hunger: Political unrest, gang violence, and extreme weather events
- Description: Haiti is on the verge of a humanitarian disaster, with political instability, an economic crisis, gang violence, and extreme weather events deepening hunger. Haiti experienced catastrophic hunger for the first time in the Western Hemisphere. The U.N. World Food Programme is providing assistance, including school meals and resilience-building initiatives.
World Food Programme‘s Response to the Food Crisis
In the face of this monumental crisis, the United Nations World Food Programme plays a pivotal role. It not only delivers immediate food assistance but also implements long-term solutions addressing the root causes of hunger. Through its resilience programs, such as school meals and climate adaptation projects, the WFP assists millions in vulnerable regions worldwide, striving to reduce instability, foster collaboration, and mitigate the impacts of conflict, climate shocks, and economic crises.
The United Nations World Food Programme’s commitment to responding to the global food crisis through emergency food assistance and long-term solutions stands as a beacon of hope in these challenging times. By addressing the root causes and providing immediate relief, the WFP strives to save and transform lives across the world. Your support fuels these efforts, ensuring that no one goes to bed hungry, and together, we can confront and overcome this harrowing global food crisis.