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: firstname.lastname@wfp.org): Steve Taravella, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1 202 653 1149, Mob. +1 202 770 5993

BEIRA – One month after Cyclone Idai struck Mozambique on March 14, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has reached one million people with food assistance and continues to expand its emergency response while launching recovery and reconstruction interventions.

“In the immediate aftermath of the cyclone, people were so very desperate,” said Lola Castro, WFP’s Regional Director for Southern Africa. “Thanks to the hard work and resourcefulness of the many involved, the speed and scale of the response has transformed that desperation into hope.”

Working in close coordination with the government and the National Disasters Management Institute, WFP intends to assist a total of 1.7 million people requiring urgent food and nutrition support in the four most affected provinces (Sofala, Manica, Tete and Zambezia).

  • The successful scale-up to date has been made possible by the generosity of donors, including those who provide unearmarked, flexible funding. However, WFP still requires $130 million to be able to fully implement its response through June.
  • People affected by the flood and cyclone are receiving up to 30-day rations of rice and corn meal, beans, fortified blended food and vegetable oil. Where local markets are functioning, WFP distributions of food will increasingly give way to cash-based transfers (CBTs). Some 145,000 people are to receive support this way in April.
  • WFP has deployed nutritionists to the four priority provinces, begun moderate acute malnutrition (MAM) treatment at displacement centers and devised a six-month plan to treat at least 100,000 children and women.
  • An ongoing cholera outbreak, that has so far infected more than 5,000 people and threatens to worsen malnutrition. WFP is supporting three cholera treatment centers in Beira with food assistance.
  • As lead of the global logistics cluster, WFP deployed to Mozambique three MI-8 transport helicopters and a C-295 freight aircraft to support the broader humanitarian response. Two WFP amphibious vehicles, able to carry 2,000 pounds of cargo, are in service, carrying food and other essentials to otherwise inaccessible locations.
  • Drone mapping of damage and needs is a key element of WFP’s support. WFP drone pilots are assessing damage to critical infrastructure – including hospitals, clinics, schools, roads and bridges. All 17 square miles of Beira and several towns and villages outside the city have been mapped so far.
  • Planting for a second 2019 harvest in October-November must be completed in the coming days. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has begun the distribution of corn, bean and vegetable seeds, and of tools, to 14,700 small-scale farming families in Sofala and Manica provinces. WFP is supporting the effort by providing food assistance to the families to ensure seeds are planted rather than consumed.
  • More than 2,700 square miles of crops – primarily corn – were washed away ahead of the main April–May harvest, deepening food insecurity. Other key sources of income, like livestock and fisheries, have also been badly affected.

Given the magnitude of the damage caused, Mozambique’s recovery needs will also be significant. WFP is working to ensure that a major government and World Bank-led post-disaster needs assessment that began this week will provide for improved food/nutrition security and social protection programs.

The disaster has underscored how vulnerable southern Africa is to climate shocks, and the imperative of significantly increased investment in disaster risk reduction and climate change adaptation, key elements of WFP’s pre-cyclone work with vulnerable communities, including subsistence farmers.

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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 @WFPUSA, @wfp_media, @wfp_africa and @wfp_mozambique.

For more information on the recovery efforts, view our Cyclone Idai page.

BEIRA/MAPUTO – At the end of a two-day visit to Mozambique, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme, David Beasley, today said the international community must step up support to victims of the recent cyclone and flooding that have devastated large areas of the country.

After arriving Tuesday in Beira, which was struck by Cyclone Idai on March 14, hitting the port city of half a million people, Beasley overflew the nearby town of Buzi – which had been all but submerged by raging floodwaters – and met survivors receiving airlifted WFP assistance in the isolated village of Guara Guara.

“These people’s lives have been devastated, they have no livelihoods now, they’ve lost their homes, they’ve lost their farms, they’ve lost their crops, they’ve lost loved ones. And they’re going to need help at least for the next six to 12 months to get back on their feet,” Beasley said. “We need the international community to rally behind the victims of this storm with major financial support, so WFP can help the survivors of Cyclone Idai.”

An estimated 400,000 hectares of crops – primarily corn – were washed away just weeks ahead of the main April–May harvest. Other key sources of income, like livestock and fisheries, have also been badly affected.

Victims will need sustained support until they can get back on their feet – in the case of subsistence farmers, until the next main harvest in mid-2020. “We need to work together with the Government of Mozambique and the communities to ensure rehabilitation is done in a way that will prevent this devastation happening again, build better everything: houses, schools and health centers to stand the shocks,” added Beasley.

The disaster has demonstrated how vulnerable communities are to climate shocks and will inevitably push up already high malnutrition rates.

Since the cyclone hit, WFP has provided food assistance to more than 150,000 people, intends to reach half a million in the coming weeks, and, as soon as possible, all 1.7 million people urgently in need of food.

Displaced cyclone victims sheltering in scores of schools and churches in Beira and surrounding areas have received easy-to-prepare fortified blended food. Sixty-six tons of high energy biscuits airlifted into the country have been dropped by helicopter to people stranded by the floodwaters.

With 86,000 metric tons of commodities needed in the next three months, WFP is procuring large quantities of cereals, vegetable oil and fortified blended foods elsewhere in southern Africa, and shipping and trucking them into Mozambique. As conditions permit, WFP will increase local procurement.

As lead of the global humanitarian logistics “cluster” that helps coordinate the relief effort, WFP has deployed to Beira three MI-8 transport helicopters and a freight aircraft to support the broader humanitarian response. As lead of the emergency telecommunications cluster, WFP has been working to re-establish vital networks that can accelerate the response by government and humanitarian agencies.

Almost 60 additional WFP staff have been deployed to Mozambique, and 45 more are on the way: emergency coordinators, air operations managers and programming, logistics and telecommunications experts.

WFP requires $140 million for the next three months.

On Wednesday in Maputo, Beasley met President Nyusi, key government ministers and donor representatives. “In these last two days, I was heartbroken by the devastation, but I also saw courage and determination on the faces of the Mozambican people”, he said. “The terrible destruction cannot dampen their spirits. WFP will stay with them, scaling up to help as many as possible.”

“I urge the international community to respond quickly and generously, because lives are truly in the balance right now.”

Photos from WFP’s Mozambique flood response are available for download here: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/QgtWAv3eqJ

For new video footage, contact Jonathan Dumont (jonathan.dumont@wfp.org)

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The United Nations World Food Programme saves lives in emergencies and changes 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 @wfp_media, @wfp_mozambique

For more information please contact (email address: firstname.lastname@wfp.org):

Gerald Bourke, WFP/Beira, Mob/whatsapp +27 82 90 81 417

Deborah Nguyen, WFP/Beira, Mob: +258 86 505 6300 / whatsapp +33 652 89 76 44

Jane Howard, WFP/Rome, Tel. +39 06 6513 2321, Mob. +39 346 7600521

Herve Verhoosel, WFP/Geneva, Mob. +21 798428057

Francis Mwanza, WFP/London, Tel.  +44 (0)20 3857 7411, Mob. +44 (0)7968 008474

Challiss McDonough, WFP/Washington, Tel. +1-202-653-1149, Mob. +1-202-774-4026

Steve Taravella, WFP/New York, Tel. +1-646-556-6909, Mob.  +1-202-770-5993

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