ROME – A basic meal is far beyond the reach of millions of people in 2020 as the COVID-19 pandemic joins conflict, climate change and economic troubles in pushing up levels of hunger around the world, according to a new study released today by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The U.N. World Food Program’s Cost of a Plate of Food 2020 report highlights the countries where a simple meal such as rice and beans costs the most, when compared with people’s incomes. South Sudan is once again top of the list, with basic ingredients costing a staggering 186 percent of a person’s daily income. Seventeen of the top 20 countries featured in the index are in sub-Saharan Africa.

“This new report exposes the destructive impact of conflict, climate change and economic crises, now compounded by COVID-19, in driving up hunger,” said U.N. World Food Program’s Executive Director David Beasley. “It’s the most vulnerable people who feel the worst effects. Their lives were already on the edge – prior to the coronavirus pandemic we were looking at the worst humanitarian crisis since World War II – and now their plight is so much worse as the pandemic threatens nothing less than a humanitarian catastrophe.”

The report highlights conflict as a central driver for hunger in many countries, as it forced people from their homes, land and jobs, drastically reducing incomes and the availability of affordable food. The close connection between food security and peace was underlined last week when the U.N. World Food Programme was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize for its work fighting hunger.

In the country with the most expensive plate of food, South Sudan, violence in the east has already displaced more than 60,000 people and is crippling harvests and livelihoods. This has combined with COVID-19 and climate shock to create the threat of famine.

Since the onset of the pandemic, the daily income spent on food by someone living in South Sudan has risen 27 points to 186 percent.

If a resident in New York State had to pay the same proportion of their salary for a basic meal, the meal would cost $393.

The Cost of a Plate of Food 2020 report is released as the U.N. World Food Programme estimates that the lives and livelihoods of up to 270 million people will be under severe threat in 2020, unless immediate action is taken to tackle the pandemic.

Burkina Faso is featured for the first time, with a surge in conflict along with climate changes, being the main drivers.  The number of people facing crisis levels of hunger has tripled to 3.4 million people, while famine threatens 11,000 living in the northern provinces. Burundi is also on the index, as political instability, steep declines in remittances and disruptions to trade and employment leave it exposed to growing hunger.

Haiti is also featured among the top 20, with consumers spending more than a third of their daily incomes on a plate of food – the equivalent of $74 for someone in New York State. Imports account for more than half of food and 83 percent of rice consumed in Haiti, making it vulnerable to inflation and price volatility in international markets, especially during crises such as the current global pandemic.

“People in urban areas are now highly susceptible too, with COVID-19 leading to huge rises in unemployment, rendering people powerless to use the markets they depend on for food. For millions of people, missing a day’s wages means missing a day’s worth of food, for themselves and their children. This can also cause rising social tensions and instability,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director Beasley.

U.N. World Food Programme support includes providing food and cash assistance, and helping governments extend their own safety nets. In South Sudan, on top of regular assistance to 5 million people, the U.N. World Food Programme will assist an additional 1.6 million – mostly in urban settings.

In the longer term, effective food systems are essential for access to affordable, nutritious food. The U.N. World Food Programme’s procurement of food means it has a critical role to play in improving the systems that produce food and bring it to people’s tables.

This is the third edition of the U.N. World Food Programme’s Cost of a Plate of Food report (formerly called Counting the Beans) with 36 countries featured this year. The report takes an estimated per capita average income across each country and calculates what percentage people must spend for a basic meal, some beans or lentils for example, and a carbohydrate matching local preferences. The price someone in New York State might pay was calculated by applying the meal-to-income ratio for someone in a developing country to a consumer in the US State.

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Photos available here

The U.N. World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

For more information, contact: 

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DAKAR – 15.4 million cases of acute malnutrition in children under five years old are expected in 2020 in West and Central Africa – one third of them from its most severe form – if adequate measures are not put in place now, warned the United Nations Children’s Funds (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). This represents a 20 percent increase from earlier estimates in January 2020, according to an analysis of the combined impact of food insecurity and COVID-19 on acute malnutrition in 19 countries of the region.

Conflict and armed violence have led to massive population displacements and drastically limited access to basic social services, leading child malnutrition to increase to unprecedented levels. The coronavirus disease is exacerbating fragile contexts in West and Central Africa, such as in the Sahel region across Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Senegal, which were already stricken with food insecurity and malnutrition.

Before the COVID-19 pandemic, 4.5 million cases were anticipated to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2020, in these 6 countries. Today, with growing insecurity and COVID-19, that number has jumped to almost 5.4 million.

“Children suffering from severe acute malnutrition are at higher risk of COVID-19-related complications. Whereas, good nutrition for children, starting from their early days, protects them against illnesses and infections, and supports their recovery when they become ill,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, UNICEF Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “Ensuring the continuity of preventive and lifesaving health and nutrition services, building shock-responsive social protection systems, protecting livelihoods and supporting families’ access to water, hygiene and healthy food are critical for child survival and long-term development.”

Several factors threaten the nutritional status of children under five in West and Central Africa. These include:

  • household food insecurity
  • poor maternal nutrition and infant feeding practices
  • conflicts and armed violence
  • population displacement
  • high levels of childhood illnesses and water-borne diseases such as diarrhea, fragile health systems
  • poor access to clean water and sanitation
  • chronic poverty

Adding to these malnutrition aggravating factors, COVID-19 pandemic containment measures have led to disruptions in food production and distribution, in health and humanitarian supply chains, as well as a slow-down of economic activities. The pandemic has had indirect negative impacts on food systems, households’ income and food security, and the provision of treatment against malnutrition. This makes it more difficult for populations to maintain healthy diets, optimal infant and young child feeding practices, and hinders their access to essential nutrition services.

“Thousands of families will be unable to provide their children with the nutritious food needed for their proper growth and development,” said Chris Nikoi, U.N. World Food Programme Regional Director for West and Central Africa. “We must work together to improve access to nutritious foods and ensure that there are strong preventive actions that protect children from falling into the vicious trap of malnutrition and sickness.”

The U.N. World Food Programme and UNICEF are working with governments and partners to ensure the continuation of essential services. Together, they deliver an integrated package of care focused on the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition and empower communities for the provision of basic services.

In northern Mali, for example, the U.N. World Food Programme and UNICEF are joining their efforts and resources to treat and prevent maternal and child malnutrition and reinforce good feeding practices. This includes screening of children for malnutrition. The screening is part of an initiative that promotes early detection of malnutrition in children by mothers and families, using a Mid Upper Arm Circumference (MUAC) screening tape. In addition, it allows for the referral of moderate and severe acute malnutrition cases to health facilities, supported by both agencies. Prevention activities include sensitization sessions on infant and young child feeding practices, supported by UNICEF and complemented by the provision of vouchers to women to exchange for nutritious foods available in the market, facilitated by the U.N. World Food Programme.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

George FOMINYEN, WFP: +221 77 639 4271,
Anne-Isabelle LECLERCQ BALDE, UNICEF: +221 77 740 6914,

DAKAR – The humanitarian crisis in the Central Sahel region of Africa is spiraling out of control – with more than 5 million people facing severe food insecurity across the region, according to a new joint food security assessment released today by food security partners including the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).

The dramatic spike in the number of hungry people comes at a time when the COVID-19 pandemic is spreading into fragile countries in a region home to the weakest health systems anywhere in the world.

Burkina Faso – which has seen the largest number of officially-reported deaths from COVID-19 anywhere in sub-Saharan Africa – is where the number of food insecure people is expected to more than triple to 2.1 million people as the lean season sets-in in June, up from over 680,000 at the same time last year.

“This is a crisis layered on top of a crisis, and the situation risks getting out of hand,” said Chris Nikoi, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa. “People are on the brink – we must step up now to save lives – we are the only hope for millions.”

“Our message to the world is clear – look away now and the consequences will be no less than catastrophic,” added Nikoi.

Across the Central Sahel – a region that encompasses Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger – the situation is extremely worrying, with the number of hungry rising steadily as the crisis deepens, also pushing 1.3 million people in Mali and 2 million people in Niger into severe food insecurity.

The number of internally displaced people has also increased four-fold across the Central Sahel, with numbers spiking in Burkina Faso to 780,000 up from half a million at the start of the year. These communities have been forced from their homes by extremist violence and now rely almost entirely on external assistance to survive.

WFP’s food and nutrition assistance provides a lifeline to millions in the region, as well as providing stability and strengthening the resilience of the communities in which they live. WFP assisted 1.5 million people in Burkina Faso and Mali in February, but more support is needed to tackle the crisis, especially as the threat of COVID-19 puts lifesaving humanitarian work on the line. WFP urgently requires $208 million through August 2020 to carry out its lifesaving operations.

WFP has extensive experience operating in the midst of a disease outbreak as it did during the 2014-2016 West Africa Ebola outbreak, which showed that food assistance can play a vital role in containing disease spread on the one hand, while reducing vulnerabilities to infection through nutrition programs that target vulnerable communities with compromised immune systems – like the chronically ill and the elderly.

WFP has rapidly adapted its operations to the COVID-19 pandemic, putting in place measures to reduce the risk of infection to beneficiaries, partners and WFP staff.


Photos available here, and broadcast quality footage available on request.

Multimedia Sway presentation on the situation in the Central Sahel available here.

Cadre Harmonisé Food Security Analysis report available here.

The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter: @WFPUSA @wfp_wafrica @wfp_media

For more information please contact (email address:

  • George Fominyen, WFP/Dakar, Tel. +221 776394271
  • James Belgrave, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 366 529 4297
  • Elisabeth Byrs, WFP/ Geneva, Tel. +41 79 842 8057
  • Tiphaine Walton, WFP/Paris, Tel. +33 (0)6 74 15 92 09

DAKAR, 03 February 2020 – The number of people facing a critical lack of food and vital livelihood opportunities in the Central Sahel has spiked in one year due to rising insecurity and climatic shocks. The situation may further deteriorate unless the international community acts now, three United Nations agencies warned today.

Despite an overall satisfactory agricultural production, 3.3 million people need immediate assistance in the Central Sahel, according to the latest Cadre Harmonisé food security analyses, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said. Experts forecast that close to 4.8 million people in the Central Sahel will be at risk of food insecurity during the lean season (June-August 2020) if no appropriate actions are taken urgently.

The unprecedented escalation of humanitarian needs in the Central Sahel is a major factor for the alarming situation that the overall West Africa region is facing in 2020, where the number of people at risk of food insecurity could rise up to a total 14.4 million, a level that has not been reached since 2012.

Of biggest concern are the Central Sahelian countries of Burkina Faso, Mali, and Niger, where conflict and its impacts on communities have become the main cause of food insecurity. The three countries are experiencing a rise in the number of security incidents, including attacks by armed groups and community conflicts that frequently lead to population movements.

In Burkina Faso in particular, the situation is alarming. The number of internally displaced people (IDPs) is now six times higher than it was in January 2019, going from 90,000 to 560,033 in December 2019. This shows how quickly and massively the situation deteriorated during in 2019.

“We are seeing a staggering rise in hunger in the central Sahel. The number of food insecure people has doubled after harvest time, when it should have dropped. Unless we act now, a whole generation are at risk,” said Chris Nikoi, Regional Director for WFP in West and Central Africa.

Climate change is disrupting already fragile livelihoods. There are already early departures of seasonal herders. This situation is exacerbated by armed and community conflicts, theft, and banditry, which disrupt the mobility of animal herds, access to fodder and water resources. It also leads to a concentration of animals in some more secure areas, with the risk of aggravating farmer-pastoralist conflicts.

Overall, the increasing vulnerability of rural populations, insecurity and conflict over resources, are disrupting social cohesion amongst communities, leading to a longer-term worsening of the crisis in the Sahel. Therefore, immediate assistance to respond to urgent needs must be coupled with substantial investments in rural livelihoods and social services, in order to reinforce social cohesion and provide the foundations for peace in the region.

“Unless we address these crises from their roots, millions of vulnerable pastoralists and agro-pastoralists will continue requiring urgent assistance each year, as it was  in 2019 and as it will be in 2020,” said Robert Guei, FAO Sub-regional Coordinator for West Africa, adding that the Global Network against Food Crises provides framework for that support.

Thanks to collective efforts in providing essential preventive and curative services, the results of the 2019 national nutrition surveys in the Sahel do not show an immediate decline in children’s nutritional status. However, the situation remains fragile with rate of global acute malnutrition that are still above or close to the WHO “serious threshold” in Niger (10.9%), and Mali (9.4%). The situation is particularly worrying in northern Burkina Faso where widespread insecurity is significantly hindering the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition among mothers and young children. Rapid nutrition assessments conducted in municipalities with high numbers of internally displaced people show a sharp deterioration of the nutritional status among children under five. More in-depth analysis involving both institutional and operational partners is ongoing to identify the most at-risk areas.

Household food insecurity, compounded by population displacement, limited access to health services and safe drinking water, as well as poor knowledge on optimal child feeding practices will have a serious impact on the nutritional status of young children and on the capacities of communities to bounce back, if nothing is done now to protect the nutritional status of young children and prevent life-threatening acute malnutrition. Integrated approaches for the prevention and care of acute malnutrition must be implemented at scale immediately in the most affected areas.

“The conflict in the Central Sahel is a cascading crisis sweeping across the region, putting a whole generation of children at risk. Hundreds of thousands of children are deprived of education, vulnerable to exploitation and at risk of malnutrition.  Children and young people continue to pay the highest price for a crisis not of their making. We need to act now with partners to avert a tragedy,” said Marie-Pierre Poirier, Regional Director for UNICEF.


The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Its goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives. With over 194 member states, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide.

UNICEF works in some of the world’s toughest places, to reach the world’s most disadvantaged children. Across more than 190 countries and territories, we work for every child, everywhere, to build a better world for everyone.

For more information please contact:

Mikaila Issa, FAO/Dakar | Tel. +221782199410, Email:

Diane Yaméogo, UNICEF/Dakar | Tel. +221 773324326, Email:

George Fominyen, WFP/Dakar | Tel. +221 338496500, Mob. +221776394271, Email:

Rome – Escalating hunger needs in sub-Saharan Africa dominate a World Food Programme (WFP) analysis of global hunger hotspots in the first half of 2020 with millions of people requiring life-saving food assistance in Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Sahel region in the coming months.

The sheer scale and complexity of the challenges in Africa and other regions will stretch the resources and capacity of WFP and other agencies to the limit.  Ramping up the humanitarian response will again require the generous support of donor governments to fund the assistance required to save lives and support development.

“WFP is fighting big and complex humanitarian battles on several fronts at the start of 2020,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of WFP. “In some countries, we are seeing conflict and instability combine with climate extremes to force people from their homes, farms and places of work. In others, climate shocks are occurring alongside economic collapse and leaving millions on the brink of destitution and hunger.”

The WFP 2020 Global Hotspots Report highlights grave challenges in sub-Saharan Africa over the next six months with Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of Congo and the Central Sahel region standing out when it comes to the needs of hungry children, women and men. The WFP report notes that amidst an imploding economy, the situation in Zimbabwe is increasingly precarious as the country enters the peak of its “lean season” when food is at its most scarce and the number of hungry people has reached its highest point in a decade. WFP is planning assistance for more than 4 million people in Zimbabwe as concerns grow that the impact of a regional drought could drag yet more countries down in the first months of the year.

“Last year, WFP was called upon to bring urgent large-scale relief to Yemen, Mozambique after Cyclone Idai, Burkina Faso and many other crises to avert famine,” said Margot Van Der Velden, WFP Director of Emergencies. “But the world is an unforgiving place and as we turn the page into 2020 WFP is confronting new, monumental humanitarian challenges that we need to address with real urgency.”

Hunger Hotspots
  • A rapidly evolving crisis in Haiti is of deep concern at the turn of the year as escalating unrest paralyzes the economy, driving food prices out of reach of many people (+40% between October 2018 and October 2019).  According to a recent IPC survey on food insecurity, this has left 3.7 million people – or one-third of the population – in need of assistance
  • In Asia, Afghanistan faces insecurity combined with drought, leaving more than 11 million people – over a third of the country’s population – severely food insecure.
  • In the Middle East, WFP can look back on its success in Yemen where it scaled up by 50% from providing food assistance to 8 million people a month at the beginning of 2018 to 12 million by the end of the year.
  • As it looks forward into 2020, WFP remains alert to growing food needs in Iraq and Lebanon, where civil unrest and macro-economic crisis are leading to an increase in food insecurity.

WFP estimates it will require more than $10 billion to fully fund all its operations in more than 80 countries around the world in 2020.

“Every year at WFP we plan ahead for the next 12 months and ask for support from the generous governments, private sector institutions and members of the public who help us reach our humanitarian and development goals,” said Beasley.“ As an agency that depends entirely on voluntary donations, we have a responsibility to show WFP can continue to be the most efficient and effective global organization delivering the kind of food assistance that saves lives and changes lives across the world.”

Photos of Hunger Hotspot countries available here.

The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies, building prosperity and supporting a sustainable future for people recovering from conflict, natural disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

For more information please contact (email address: Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 653 1149, Mob. +1 202 770 5993

OUAGADOUGOU – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today warned of an escalating humanitarian crisis driven by widespread violence and the long-term impact of climate change that has gripped Burkina Faso and neighboring countries in the Central Sahel region of West Africa. WFP said the humanitarian response needed to be rapidly escalated to protect and save lives in Burkina Faso and the wider region.

“A dramatic human crisis is unfolding in Burkina Faso that has disrupted the lives of millions. Close to half a million people have been forced from their homes and a third of the country is now a conflict zone,” said WFP’s Executive Director, David Beasley. “Our teams on the ground are seeing malnutrition levels pushed well past emergency thresholds – this means young children and new mothers are on the brink. If the world is serious about saving lives, the time to act is now.”

There has been a sharp increase in violence in Burkina Faso – the number of attacks in the first half of 2019 surpassed the total for 2018, with reported civilian deaths four times the total recorded in 2018. The escalating levels of insecurity have led to schools being closed and farmers abandoning their fields in search of safety – this in a country where 4 out of 5 people rely on farming for their livelihoods.

The impact on the now 20 million people living in conflict areas across the region is dramatic. At least 486,000 people have been forced to flee their homes in Burkina Faso alone, bringing the total number of internally displaced people across the three Sahelian countries to 860,000 people. Meanwhile, 2.4 million people need food assistance in the Central Sahel – a figure that could rise due to continued displacements.

WFP and other humanitarian agencies are facing the growing crisis at a time when funds to support relief efforts are running low and a substantial injection of new resources is required to meet the growing needs.

Even without the exacerbating impact of insecurity, the Sahel is on the forefront of climate change, and many communities are already having to adapt to an unpredictable climate.

WFP is faced with the immense challenge of simultaneously responding to immediate humanitarian needs, while protecting investments made in community resilience and self-sufficiency to ensure that all the gains made in recent years are not lost.

WFP has stepped up its response, providing more than 2.6 million people with food and nutrition assistance so far this year in the three Central Sahel countries, focusing its efforts on areas where humanitarian needs are most severe and where large-scale population displacements have taken place.

WFP urgently needs $150 million for operations across the Central Sahelian nations of Mali, Niger and Burkina Faso, under existing programs that include both emergency activities and resilience-building programs.

Broadcast quality footage from Burkina Faso available here.

Photos available here, feature-length story here.

WFP’s Director of Emergencies and Country Directors in Burkina Faso and Mali will be available for interviews.

The United Nations World Food Programme – saving lives in emergencies and changing lives for millions through sustainable development. WFP works in more than 80 countries around the world, feeding people caught in conflict and disasters, and laying the foundations for a better future.

Follow us on Twitter @WFUSA @wfp_wafrica @wfp_africa

For more information please contact (email address:

Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington | Tel. +1 202 653 1149, Mob. +1 202 770 5993

Shada Moghraby, WFP/New York | Tel. +1 646 5566914, Mob. +1 929 289 9867

burkina faso:

A People in Peril

The arid, Sahel nation faces a multidimensional crisis driven by insecurity, political instability, climate change and rising food prices. Millions are going hungry, but WFP is on the ground.

Drought and conflict in Burkina Faso are driving people from their homes and into poverty and hunger.


of the population relies on agriculture


people are internally displaced from their homes


people are expected to face hunger this year

A woman stands in front of a blue tent, a baby sleeping on her back.
A mother and her baby a refugee camp in Burkina Faso.

Drought and Devastation

Burkina Faso is a semi-arid Sahel country, with a population of nearly 21 million. More than half (40%) of its population lives below the poverty line. The majority of the population depends on one season of rain-fed agriculture for their livelihoods, leaving the country vulnerable to climate shocks. The rising insecurity continues to deteriorate across all regions of Burkina Faso, resulting in a massive population displacement. As of April 2022, 1.6 million people are internally displaced from their homes.

Burkina Faso is experiencing a multi-faceted emergency caused by conflict, political instability, climate change events and rising food prices which has led to a deterioration in food and nutrition security for millions.

WFP’s Work in Burkina Faso

We’ve been in Burkina Faso since 1967. In partnerships with the government, international and national organizations, academia, local communities and the private sector, we’re working together to fight hunger.

IDP’s and Refugees

Following a rise in violent attacks and increased displacements, the U.N. World Food Programme provides monthly food or cash assistance to internally displaced persons (IDP’s). The U.N. World Food Programme also provides Malian refugees residing in the Sahel region with a monthly ration consisting of cereal, beans, oil and cash.

School Meals

Since 2004, the U.N. World Food Programme has been supporting the Burkinabe government by implementing a school feeding program across the Sahel region. Take-home rations are also a further incentive to attend school activities until they complete at least primary school.

Resilience Programs

Our livelihood opportunities contribute to improving the resilience of individuals and communities to both socioeconomic shocks and the effects of climate change. Support includes the provision of storage technologies, and training on post-harvest losses reduction and food processing. In 2019, we introduced a weather index-based insurance in various villages likely to be affected by drought.

Nutritional Aid

Despite the difficulties posed by growing insecurity, the U.N. World Food Programme is implementing activities to prevent and treat malnutrition in children under the age of 5 as well as pregnant and breastfeeding women and girls.

Help Save Lives by Sending Food

You help deliver food to vulnerable populations in Burkina Faso and other countries by donating to WFP.

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