The #1 cause of hunger in the world:
Image depicting The #1 cause of hunger in the world: conflict
Photo: Yemen - WFP/Fares Khoailed
Photo: Yemen - WFP/Fares Khoailed
Violence. War . Persecution.

Conflict uproots families and destroys economies. It ruins infrastructure and halts agricultural production, making food harder to produce and afford. Then, when precious resources like food become scarce, competition grows, fueling further unrest and violence.

It’s a vicious cycle. It’s entirely man-made. And it’s entirely within our power to stop it.


of the world’s worst food crises are driven by conflict


of the world’s hungriest people live in conflict zones


people are currently displaced due to conflict – more than ever before

The most dangerous places on earth


Yemen is the world’s biggest, most dire hunger crisis. Over 70% of the population – 20 million people – don’t know where their next meal is coming from. This includes more than 200,000 people on the brink of famine and 3.2 million women and children who need urgent treatment for acute malnutrition. WFP works day and night to feed 12 million of them every month.

Source: Yemen Hub Photo: WFP/Annabel Symington


Eight years of war have pushed 75% of Syrians to extreme levels of poverty and hunger. More than 6.2 million people are displaced inside the country and another 5.6 million live abroad as refugees. Syrian children have borne the brunt of the war’s effects, forcing millions of them out of school. Over 3 million Syrians rely on WFP every month for their basic needs.

Source: Syria Hub Photo: WFP/Marwa Awad


In 2017, Rohingyas began fleeing Myanmar to escape violence and persecution. Today, more than 910,000 Rohingya refugees have settled in camps, makeshift shelters and host communities in neighboring Bangladesh. Kutupalong camp in Cox’s Bazar district is now the largest refugee camp in the world – where 80% percent of the refugees are entirely dependent on WFP food assistance.

Source: Bangladesh Hub Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder


Conflict combined with poverty and extreme weather have led Nigeria into a crisis. Almost 3 million people face severe levels of hunger and over 1 million children under 5 are acutely malnourished. The violence and insecurity are causing mass migrations of people, with 2 million living in camps or host communities and hundreds of thousands more seeking refuge in neighboring countries. Three million people are entirely dependent on WFP for their food.

Source: Nigeria Hub Photo: WFP/Amadou Baraze


Decades of civil war have left millions of Congolese people dead or displaced. Despite being rich in natural resources, armed conflict and a recent outbreak of Ebola have left 13 million people severely food insecure. Five million of them are acutely malnourished children.

Source: DRC Hub Photo: WFP/Tara Crossley

South Sudan

Record-high levels of hunger across South Sudan are caused by a deadly combination of man-made conflict and erratic weather. 2018’s poor harvest and a longer-than-normal dry season have left 54% of the population in acute levels of food insecurity or worse. WFP has helped prevent famine from sweeping across the entire country — but more than 7 million people, half the population, are still severely food insecure.

Source: South Sudan Hub Photo: WFP/Gabriela Vivacqua

The Sahel

The Central Sahel - comprised of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger - faces a deadly combination of conflict and climate change. Attacks on civilians have spiked, infrastructure is crumbling, and fighting between state and non-state armed groups has forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes. Today, 2.4 million people there face critical levels of hunger

Source: The Sahel Hub

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$75 can provide a family of five with a WFP emergency box, which contains enough food for an entire month.

How does conflict drive hunger?

Square photograph of Destabilization Detailed photograph of Destabilization
Photo: WFP/Annabel Symington


When violence erupts, it sends shock waves through the region. Infrastructure is destroyed, imports cease, inflation rates rise, currency devalues, roads are cut off and jobs are lost. All of this makes it exceedingly difficult to get enough food.

Detailed photograph of Displacement
Photo: WFP/Photo library


When it’s no longer safe at home and people can’t make ends meet, many of them have no choice but to leave – often bringing only what they can carry. Finding food in foreign lands, often in isolated, bleak environments, becomes even harder.

Detailed photograph of Malnutrition
Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder


The combination of destabilization and displacement almost inevitably leads to hunger. But conflict is especially cruel to children. A child living in a country ravaged by violence is more than 2X as likely to be malnourished.

These are their stories
Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder Bars & Biscuits: How Two Hungry Little Girls Stay Nourished, and in School, With Our Help

When kids living through war and displacement drop out of school, that often means missing the school meals that might be their only real source of nutrition. Here are a few bite-sized solutions.

Read more +
Photo: WFP/Alexis Masciarelli This Is What Extreme Hunger Looks Like Through the Eyes of Seven Small Children, Told in Photos

What does malnutrition do to the body of a young child? The effects are devastating, with lifelong consequences for children and their communities. Here are seven of their stories.

Read more +
Photo: WFP/Hussam Al Saleh Pope Francis Urges Help for “Small Children Who Are Hungry” in Syria and Lebanon

“There are small children who are hungry, who do not have anything to eat,” said the Pope, praying that leaders in the region would “be capable of making peace.”

Read more +

A Father’s Reflections From Syria

Jakob Kern was head of WFP’s operation in Damascus for the more than two years. As the conflict enters its 8th year, he shares what he’s seen—and what the headlines often miss.

See all podcasts

What is WFP doing to help?

The World Food Programme faces conflict head-on and goes where others can’t. With your support, WFP is on the front lines, helping the world’s most vulnerable people.

Photo: WFP/Marco Frattini
Food Assistance

When conflict erupts, food is one of the first things people lose access to. WFP provides lifesaving nutrition assistance in the form of direct food distributions, food vouchers or cash transfers. Whether it’s dried grains and beans or micro-nutrient powders and high-energy biscuits, WFP delivers the right food at the right time.

Photo: WFP/Saikat Mojumder

When war starts, it turns lives upside down. WFP combines short-term assistance with longer-term projects to build back people’s ability to be self-reliant. Activities include land rehabilitation, agriculture training for small-scale farmers, building infrastructure – like bridges and roads – and bolstering local food markets.

Photo: WFP/Kiyori Ueno
School Meals

In conflict zones, when people don’t know where their next meal will come from, children are often pulled out of school to help earn money. They work in fields or care for younger siblings. WFP’s school meals program is a major incentive to keep them in the classroom, providing critical calories and nutrition they can depend on.

Photo: WFP/Lorene Didier

WFP has spent over five decades working through crises. Its teams have accrued vast expertise and capacity in the most challenging environments. With over 600 warehouses and 100 airplanes, WFP supports 700 other humanitarian agencies in large-scale responses to the world’s most pressing emergencies.

Winning the Peace

It makes sense that conflict fuels hunger, but we have the data to prove it. Our 'Winning the Peace' report is among the most in-depth reviews of research on the link between food insecurity and instability ever produced. Check it out.


In a historic vote on May 24, 2018, the United Nations Security Council recognized for the first time that conflict and violence are closely linked to hunger and famine. This resolution paves the way for addressing conflict-induced hunger around the world.

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