Early Action Plus Investment Would Avert Food Crises

Published May 14, 2018

ROME – Chronic hunger is increasing around the world and food crises are spreading and intensifying. A new report by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), World Food Assistance: Preventing Food Crises, examines these crises, asking what causes them to break out, what determines their scale and how they might be prevented.

Among the most telling findings of the report is the huge amount of money in food assistance costs that could be saved by the taking of preventative action. An end to violent conflict – one of the main drivers of hunger – could reduce food assistance costs by up to 50 percent per annum.

A one-point increase in peace and stability on the World Bank’s measure of these conditions — known as the Index of Political Stability and Absence of Violence — could result in a saving of nearly US$3 billion (based on 2016 data). In real terms, this would mean:

  • In Syria, WFP would save $300 million a year.
  • In Yemen, WFP would save $205 million a year.
  • In Somalia, WFP would save $85 million a year.

“Ending conflict is vital,” says WFP’s Chief of Food Systems Steven Were Omamo, who masterminded the report. “But preventing food crises also requires long-term investment in education, infrastructure and economic growth. While increases in per capita income help countries limit the scale of food crises, even low-income countries can prevent crises by making these investments.”

If the world were to come to grips with all the causes of food crisis – not just conflict but climate shocks, chronic hunger and malnutrition, poorly functioning food systems, and flawed political, social and economic structures – WFP’s annual food assistance expenditure would be more than $5 billion lower. In other words, there would be virtually no need for food assistance and the money saved could be spent on longer-term developmental initiatives to improve the lives of the most vulnerable.


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

David Orr, WFP/Rome, mobile + 39 3402466831

Bettina Luescher, WFP/Geneva, mobile + 41 798428057

Francis Mwanza, WFP/London, mobile + 44 7968008474

Steve Taravella, WFP/New York, mobile + 1 2027705993