Nearly 60% of the Worldâ€™s Hungriest People Live in Just a Few Countries. Why?
The number one cause of hunger around the world is clear.
The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) delivers over 4 million tons of food to overÂ 100 million people each year in more than 80 countries. Most of them are concentrated in just a few countries. Why?
The #1 driver of hunger on the planet is man-made conflict. Conflict tears families apart, forces entire communities from their homes, destroys infrastructure and disrupts food production. It’s a vicious force, and one that’s pushed 80 million innocent civilians to the most extreme levels of hunger imaginable.
As U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley says, â€śWars and conflicts are driving hunger in a way weâ€™ve never seen before.”
By the Numbers, and the Countries
The worst food crises in the world are driven almost entirely by conflict, which is why nearly 80% percent of WFPâ€™s budget is spent on conflict-affected countries. The link between conflict and hunger is not only undeniable, itâ€™s persistent and deadly. Below youâ€™ll see six examples of how violence causes such extreme levels of hunger and how weâ€™re responding.
The Democratic Republic of Congo
The DRCÂ has surpassed Yemen as the world’s largest hunger crisis. Decades of civil war have left millions dead or displaced. The number of severely hungry people skyrocketed from 13M in 2019 to over 26M in 2021 due to a toxic mix of conflict, displacement, disease, economic decline, natural disasters and COVID-19. One in three Congolese â€“ a record high â€“are now hungry. We’re scaling up operations across the country to save lives.
More thanÂ 16 million people – over half of the population – waking up hungry every day, it’s a devastating reminder of what conflict can do to a country. More than two million children are severely malnourished, and 400,000 are at risk of dying without treatment. And warring parties have disrupted humanitarian operations, making our work difficult and dangerous. But we’re still working day and night to feed nearly 13 million Yemenis every month.
Record-high levels of hunger across South Sudan are a result of a deadly combination of a years long civil war and erratic weather. Violence has continued to grow, forcing families from their homes, jobs and support systems. Famine was most likely already happening in South Sudan between October and November of 2019, and is expected to continue through July of 2021 if conflict levels remain unchanged.Â U.N. World Food Programme aid has prevented famine from sweeping across the entire country – but 2.4 million people are at risk of starvation if they don’t receive assistance soon.
A decade of war has pushed more than 12.4Â million Syrians to high levels of hunger. More than 6.5 million people are displaced inside the country, many of whom now live in squalid, overcrowded camps, and another 5.6 million have fled as refugees to neighboring countries. Syrian children have borne the brunt of the warâ€™s effects. The crisis has become one of our most complicated operations, but we continue to serve nearly 5 million Syrians each month.
Conflict and poverty are wreaking havoc in Nigeria, with the Northeast part of the country an epicenter of climate change and conflict. Attacks by armed groups and counter-insurgents have forced 3 million people from their homes and cut them off from their farms. 13 million Nigerians are facing hunger including 4.4 million in the three Northeastern states (Borno, Adamawa and Yobe).
The Central Sahel – comprised of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – is on the verge of catastrophe. The area risks being consumed by a lethal mix of escalating armed conflict, the severe impacts of climate change and now the spread of COVID-19. More than 6.5M donâ€™t know when theyâ€™ll eat next. The number of internally displaced people rose from 70,000 in 2019 to 2M in 2021, making it one of the fastest-growing IDP crises globally. We’re aiming to assist 7 million of people in the Central Sahel by year’s end.
It’s devastatingly clear that communities in these countries are suffering, stuck in a vicious cycle of conflict and hunger that could dash their hopes for a stable, healthy future.
“Man made conflict is driving instability and powering a destructive new wave of famine that threatens to sweep across the world. The toll being paid in human misery is unimaginable,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director Beasley. “Beyond the immediate crisis, we need to invest in peace, so that in the future, desperate families are not forced to the brink of survival by the bullet and the bomb.”
By promoting peace and ending violent conflict, the world could save billions of dollars in humanitarian food assistance costs, and millions of lives every year. Before we reach that goal, and as the recipient of the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, the U.N. World Food Programme is there before, during and after upheaval to help families survive and recover.
For more information, view Monitoring Food Security in Countries with Conflict Situations and the 2021 Hunger Hotspots report.
Do you think itâ€™s wrong that so many people are going hungry because of entirely preventable causes? We do too. Help us change someoneâ€™s life today andÂ donate now.