ROME – The world is at risk of yet another year of record hunger as the global food crisis continues to drive yet more people into worsening levels of severe hunger, warns the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in a call for urgent action to address the root causes of today’s crisis ahead of World Food Day on October 16.

The global food crisis is a confluence of competing crises – caused by climate shocks, conflict and economic pressures – that has pushed the number of severely hungry people around the world from 282 million to 345 million in just the first months of 2022. The U.N. World Food Programme scaled up food assistance targets to reach a record 153 million people in 2022, and by mid-year had already delivered assistance to 111.2 million people.

“We are facing an unprecedented global food crisis and all signs suggest we have not yet seen the worst. For the last three years hunger numbers have repeatedly hit new peaks. Let me be clear: things can and will get worse unless there is a large scale and coordinated effort to address the root causes of this crisis. We cannot have another year of record hunger,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley.

The U.N. World Food Programme and humanitarian partners are holding back famine in five countries: Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Too often, it is conflict that drives the most vulnerable into catastrophic hunger with communications disrupted, humanitarian access restricted and communities displaced. The conflict in Ukraine has also disrupted global trade – pushing up transport costs and lead times while leaving farmers without access to the agricultural inputs they need. The knock-on effect on upcoming harvests will reverberate around the world.

Climate shocks are increasing in frequency and intensity, leaving those affected no time to recover between disasters. An unprecedented drought in the Horn of Africa is pushing more people into alarming levels of food insecurity, with famine now projected in Somalia. Floods have devastated homes and farmland in several countries, most strikingly in Pakistan.  Anticipatory action must be at the core of the humanitarian response to protect the most vulnerable from these shocks – and a core part of the agenda at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) next month in Egypt.

Meanwhile, governments’ ability to respond is constrained by their own economic woes – currency depreciation, inflation, debt distress – as the threat of global recession also mounts. This will see an increasing number of people unable to afford food and needing humanitarian support to meet their basic needs.

The U.N. World Food Programme’s operational plan for 2022 is the agency’s most ambitious ever. It prioritizes action to prevent millions of people from dying of hunger while working to stabilize – and where possible build – resilient national food systems and supply chains.

So far this year, the U.N. World Food Programme has increased assistance six-fold in Sri Lanka in response to the economic crisis, launched an emergency flood response in Pakistan and expanded operations to records levels in Somalia as famine looms. In Afghanistan, two out of every five Afghans have been supported by U.N. World Food Programme assistance. The U.N. World Food Programme also launched an emergency operation in Ukraine and opened a new office Moldova to support families fleeing the conflict.

With the cost of delivering assistance rising and lead times increasing, the U.N. World Food Programme continues to diversify its supplier base, including boosting local and regional procurement: So far in 2022, 47% of the food the U.N. World Food Programme has purchased is from countries where it operates – a value of $1.2 billion. The U.N. World Food Programme has also expanded the use of cash-based transfers to deliver food assistance in the most efficient and cost-effective way in the face of these rising costs. Cash transfers now represent 35% of the agency’s emergency food assistance.

The U.N. World Food Programme has secured $655 million in contributions and service provision agreements from international financial institutions to support national social protection systems. Similar efforts are underway to expand innovative climate financing partnerships. The U.N. World Food Programme continues to support governments with supply chain services, such as the procurement and transport of food commodities to replenish national grain reserves to support national safety net programs.

While these efforts provide succor to some of the severely vulnerable, it is against a challenging global backdrop in which the number of acutely hungry people continues to increase requiring a concerted global action for peace, economic stability and continued humanitarian support to ensure food security around the world.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is 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.

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Rising conflict, climate extremes, and economic instability aggravated by the lingering impacts of COVID-19 and the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine are among the key drivers

ROME – The number of people facing severe hunger worldwide is expected to continue to rise steeply as the food crisis tightens its grip on 19 ‘hunger hotspots.’ This sharp rise in hunger is driven by rising conflict, weather extremes, and economic instability aggravated by the pandemic and the ripple effects of the crisis in Ukraine, a joint UN report has found.

The ‘Hunger Hotspots – FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity’ report – issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) calls for urgent humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods and prevent famine in hotspot countries where acute food insecurity is expected to worsen from October 2022 to January 2023. The report lays out country-specific recommendations on priorities for anticipatory action – short-term protective measures to be put in place before new humanitarian needs materialize – and emergency response – actions to address existing humanitarian needs.

“The severe drought in the Horn of Africa has pushed people to the brink of starvation, destroying crops and killing livestock on which their survival depends. Acute food insecurity is rising fast and spreading across the world. People in the poorest countries in particular who have yet to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic are suffering from the ripple effects of ongoing conflicts, in terms of prices, food and fertilizer supplies, as well as the climate emergency. Without a massively scaled up humanitarian response that has at its core time-sensitive and lifesaving agricultural assistance, the situation will likely worsen in many countries in the coming months,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu.

“This is the third time in 10 years that Somalia has been threatened with a devastating famine. The famine in 2011 was caused by two consecutive failed rainy seasons as well as conflict. Today we’re staring at a perfect storm: a likely fifth consecutive failed rainy season that will see drought lasting well into 2023. But the people at the sharp end of today’s crisis are also facing soaring food prices and severely limited opportunities to earn a living following the pandemic. We urgently need to get help to those in grave danger of starvation in Somalia and the world’s other hunger hotspots,” said the U.N. World Food Programme’s Executive Director David Beasley.

The report spotlights the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, where the longest drought in over 40 years is forecast to continue – with the fifth failed rainy season in a row on the horizon – adding to the cumulative, devastating effects that successive rainfall deficits, economic crises and conflict have had on vulnerable households since 2020. Water scarcity has led to below average harvests, livestock deaths and forced hundreds of thousands of people off their land in search of sustenance, while increasing the risk of intercommunal and resource-based conflict.

Up to 26 million people are expected to face Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 and above) levels of food insecurity in Somalia, southern and eastern Ethiopia, and northern and eastern Kenya. With humanitarian assistance at risk of being cut due to funding shortfalls, the possibility of large-scale deaths from hunger looms large in Somalia with famine likely to take hold in the districts of Baidoa and Burhakaba in Bay Region come October. Without an adequate humanitarian response, analysts expect that by December, as many as four children or two adults per 10,000 people will die every day. Hundreds of thousands are already facing starvation today with staggering levels of malnutrition expected among children under the age of 5.

Globally, an all-time high of 970,000 people are expected to face catastrophic hunger (IPC Phase 5) and are starving or projected to starve or at risk of deterioration to catastrophic conditions in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen if no action is taken – ten times more than six years ago when only two countries had populations in Phase 5.

Key Findings

According to the report, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen remain at the ‘highest alert’ as hotspots. The six countries account for almost 1 million people facing catastrophic levels of hunger (IPC Phase 5 ‘Catastrophe’) with starvation and death a daily reality and where extreme levels of mortality and malnutrition may unfold without immediate action.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Kenya, the Sahel, the Sudan and Syria remain ‘of very high concern’ with deteriorating conditions – as in the June edition of the quarterly report – but the alert is extended to the Central African Republic and Pakistan. Meanwhile, Guatemala, Honduras and Malawi have been added to the list of countries, joining Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Madagascar that remain hunger hotspots.

Violent conflict remains the primary driver of acute hunger with analysis indicating a continuation of this trend in 2022 with particular concern for Ethiopia, where an intensification of conflict and interethnic violence in several regions is expected to further escalate, driving up humanitarian needs.

Weather extremes such as floods, tropical storms and droughts remain critical drivers in many parts of the globe. A “new normal” of consecutive and extreme weather events is becoming clear – particularly in the hotspots. Devastating floods have affected 33 million people in Pakistan alone this year, and South Sudan faces a fourth consecutive year of extreme flooding. Meanwhile, a third consecutive season of below-average rainfall is projected in Syria. For the first time in 20 years, the La Niña climate event has continued through three consecutive years – affecting agriculture and causing crop and livestock losses in many parts of the world including Afghanistan, west and east Africa and Syria.

On the economic front, the persistently high global prices of food, fuel and fertilizer continue to drive high domestic prices and economic instability. Rising inflation rates have forced governments to enact monetary-tightening measures in advanced economies which have also increased the cost of credit of low-income countries. This is constraining the ability of heavily indebted countries – the number of countries increased significantly in recent years – to finance the import of essential items.

In the face of these macroeconomic challenges, many governments are compelled to introduce austerity measures affecting incomes and purchasing power – particularly among the most vulnerable families. These trends are expected to increase in coming months, the report notes, with poverty and acute food insecurity rising further as well as risks of civil unrest driven by increasing socio-economic grievances.

Humanitarian assistance is crucial to save lives and prevent starvation, death and the total collapse of livelihoods the report notes, highlighting that insecurity, administrative and bureaucratic impediments, movement restrictions and physical barriers severely limit humanitarian responders’ access to people facing acute hunger in 11 of the hotspot countries – including all six of the countries where populations are facing or are projected to face starvation (IPC Phase 5) or are at risk of deterioration towards catastrophic conditions.

Humanitarian Action Is Critical to Preventing Starvation and Death

The report calls for targeted humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods in the 19 hunger hotspots noting that in humanitarian action in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen will be critical in preventing further starvation and death.

Note to Editors

Photos from Hotspot Countries available here.

Identified through forward-looking analysis, the ‘hunger hotspots’ are areas showing the potential for acute food insecurity to increase during the outlook period. The hotspots are selected through a consensus-based process involving WFP and FAO field and technical teams, alongside analysts specialized in conflict, economic risks, and natural hazards. 

The report is part of a series of analytical products produced under the Global Network Against Food Crises, to enhance and coordinate the generation and sharing of evidence-based information and analysis for preventing and addressing food crises. 

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. It aims at transforming agrifood systems, making them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no-one behind. FAO’s 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.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is 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, @FAOnews and @wfp_media

ISLAMABAD – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is scaling up its emergency response to reach 1.9 million people affected by this year’s monsoon floods. Recovery and resilience support is now a top priority as families struggle to cope with the loss of homes, livestock and food, and the country grapples with colossal damage to infrastructure, agricultural land and crops.

Already, the U.N. World Food Programme has reached more than 400,000 people with food assistance in Balochistan, Khyber Pakhtunkhwa and Sindh provinces and continues to expand its operations in support of the government-led response across the country. A record 33 million people are affected by the floods, the deadliest in more than a decade.

“The people of Pakistan not only need immediate assistance but also longer-term support to restore their livelihoods shattered by the floods,” said Rathi Palakrishnan, officer-in-charge and deputy country director for U.N. World Food Programme Pakistan. “The U.N. World Food Programme stands with them – under the leadership of the government – to help them get through this calamity and build their resilience against future shocks. The world needs to wake up to the reality of the climate crisis.”

More than 630,000 people are still in relief camps, over 80% of them in Sindh alone. In Balochistan and Sindh, large areas of land remain inundated, and scores of communities are cut off – creating challenges for humanitarian agencies to deliver aid. There has also been an outbreak of waterborne diseases among the displaced families.

In addition to food distributions, the U.N. World Food Programme is providing specialized, nutritious food for 31,000 young children and 28,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women to prevent malnutrition and boost their immunity. The U.N. World Food Programme is also reinforcing the government’s logistical capacity to ensure no disruptions to humanitarian supply chains.

Once the initial relief response is concluded, the U.N. World Food Programme will immediately implement recovery programs to improve community infrastructure, create livelihoods opportunities and boost resilience, combined with cash-based transfers, through early 2023.

In Pakistan, the U.N. World Food Programme works closely with the government to strengthen livelihoods and help communities build their resilience to climatic shocks. This includes supporting income-generating activities, the creation of irrigation channels and dams in drought and flood-prone areas, and vocational training – all of which help both men and women diversify their livelihood sources. Community members receive food assistance while participating in the activities, and their communities benefit from improved infrastructure that boosts resilience and food security in the long-term.

The significant scale-up requires $152 million, up from the originally planned $34 million, as part of the flash appeal launched by the United Nations in August.

Note to the editor

Click here for photos and here for video footage.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is 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 @WFPPakistan

As Pakistan gets pummeled by devastating flooding and landslides caused by heavy monsoon rainfall,  World Food Program USA is mobilizing to support the United Nations World Food Programme’s response to the escalating humanitarian disaster. Following the Government of Pakistan’s request for support, the U.N. World Food Programme is rapidly expanding its food assistance to 495,957 people in Balochistan and Sindh. The U.N. World Food Programme has already supported 40,189 flood-affected people in five targeted districts in Balochistan. Distributions have had to be put on hold due to strong rains and access constraints but will restart as soon as the situation allows.

On August 30, the United Nations will issue a $161 million flash appeal for Pakistan. As part of the appeal, the U.N. World Food Programme urgently needs $34 million in order to scale-up food and cash assistance to nearly 1 million people in the Balochistan, Sindh, Punjab districts and Khyber Pakhtunkhwa provinces.

Since mid-June, flooding and landslides have caused widespread destruction across the country, killing at least 937 people and injuring 1,343. Flooding has affected 33 million people so far with 66 districts declared a ‘calamity hit’ by the government. Over 3000 km of roads and over 100 bridges have been damaged or destroyed; nearly 800,000 livestock have died and 2 million acres of crops and farmland impacted. The humanitarian situation is expected to worsen as communities and infrastructure are increasingly unable to cope with ongoing heavy rainfall. According to Pakistan’s disaster agency, record rainfall has been between three to five times the 30-year nationwide average.

World Food Program USA stands by the people of Pakistan during their time of need. Help us rush urgently-needed food and lifesaving support to those facing crisis in countries like Pakistan.

NAIROBI – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is expanding assistance in the Horn of Africa as levels of hunger soar after back-to-back droughts and the threat of famine looms. Since the start of the year, 9 million more people have slipped into severe hunger across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia – leaving 22 million people struggling to find enough food to eat.

U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley on Thursday wrapped up a visit to drought-ravaged Somalia, where over 7 million people (close to half the population) are severely hungry and 213,000 are already facing famine-like conditions. Beasley visited the southern city of Baardheere and met families, including malnourished children and their mothers, who have been forced to leave their homes and travel long distances through conflict-wracked areas in search of humanitarian assistance.

“People here have been waiting years for rain – but they cannot wait any longer for lifesaving food assistance. The world needs to act now to protect the most vulnerable communities from the threat of widespread famine in the Horn of Africa,” said Beasley. “There is still no end in sight to this drought crisis, so we must get the resources needed to save lives and stop people plunging into catastrophic levels of hunger and starvation.”

The U.N. World Food Programme is tripling the number of people reached with lifesaving food assistance in the Baardheere area, which hosts tens of thousands of people driven from their homes by drought and conflict.

Across the Horn of Africa, the drought is expected to continue in coming months with a fifth poor rainy season forecast later this year. The U.N. World Food Programme has focused available funds, including critical emergency funding from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, on scaling up lifesaving assistance in areas worst hit by the drought. The U.N. World Food Programme is targeting 8.5 million people across the Horn of Africa, up from 6.3 million at the start of the year.

Across the three drought-affected countries, the U.N. World Food Programme is providing food and cash assistance to families and distributing fortified foods to women and young children to treat spiraling rates of malnutrition and prevent more people among some of the most vulnerable communities slipping closer towards famine. U.N. World Food Programme cash grants and insurance schemes are also helping families to buy food to keep livestock alive or to compensate them when their animals die.

At the start of the year, the U.N. World Food Programme warned that 13 million people in the Horn of Africa were facing severe hunger due to the drought. By mid-year, with the fourth consecutive failure of rains, that number increased to 20 million. Now, the number is projected to rise again to at least 22 million by September. This number will continue to climb, and the severity of hunger will deepen if the next rainy season (October to December) fails and the most people do not receive humanitarian relief. Needs will remain high into 2023 and famine is now a serious risk, particularly in Somalia.

Across the Horn of Africa, livestock are dying and there are acute shortages of water and food. So far 1.1 million people have been forced from their homes by the drought, ending up in crowded camps where the humanitarian community is struggling to keep pace with the demand for food, shelter, and healthcare.

During the 2016/17 drought in the Horn of Africa, catastrophe was avoided through early action. Humanitarian assistance was scaled up before there was widespread hunger, saving lives and averting a devastating famine. The U.N. World Food Programme is doing everything possible to support those most in need, but with no end in sight to this drought, some $418 million is urgently needed over the next six months to meet these increasing needs.

Note to editors:

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In Ethiopia, the U.N. World Food Programme aims to provide food and cash relief assistance to 3.3 million people in the drought-hit Somali Region (59% of the population) but is currently only able to reach 2.4 million due to funding shortages. The U.N. World Food Programme’s malnutrition treatment programs are targeting almost 850,000 women and children in drought-affected areas. The U.N. World Food Programme’s first humanitarian shipment of grain from Ukraine is on route to Ethiopia, where it will go towards feeding 1.53 million people for a month.

In Kenya, the U.N. World Food Programme is rapidly scaling up to reach 535,000 drought-affected people by the end of August – up from 108,000 reached in the first half of 2022. The U.N. World Food Programme is also expanding its malnutrition treatment programs to reach 210,000 malnourished children and 105,000 pregnant and breastfeeding women in 15 drought-affected counties – up from 8 counties.

In Somalia, the U.N. World Food Programme is continuing to scale up emergency food support to reach 4.5 million people in the coming months. In July, the U.N. World Food Programme reached a record 3.7 million people with lifesaving food assistance, the highest ever reached in a single month, and a significant increase from 1.7 million people supported in April. The U.N. World Food Programme has also nearly doubled targets for its malnutrition treatment program, aiming to provide 444,000 young children and mothers with nutrition support.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is 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, @wfp_media and @wfp_africa

JUBA – Almost one-third of the severely hungry South Sudanese the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) planned to support this year will be left without humanitarian food assistance due to critical funding shortages, heightening the risk of starvation for 1.7 million people.

The suspension of aid comes at the worst possible time for the people of South Sudan as the country faces a year of unprecedented hunger. Over 60% of the population are grappling with severe hunger during the lean season, fueled by continuing conflict, severe flooding, localized drought and soaring food prices exacerbated by the crisis in Ukraine.

“We are extremely concerned about the impact of the funding cuts on children, women and men who will not have enough to eat during the lean season. These families have completely exhausted their coping strategies. They need immediate humanitarian assistance to put food on the table in the short-term and to rebuild their livelihoods and resilience to cope with future shocks,” said Adeyinka Badejo, acting country director of the U.N. World Food Programme in South Sudan.

“Humanitarian needs are far exceeding the funding we have received this year. If this continues, we will face bigger and more costly problems in the future, including increased mortality, malnutrition, stunting and disease,” said Badejo.

The U.N. World Food Programme had exhausted all options before suspending food assistance, including halving rations in 2021 – leaving families in need with less food to eat. These latest reductions to assistance will also impact 178,000 schoolchildren who will no longer receive daily school meals – a crucial safety net that helps keep South Sudanese children in school to learn and grow.

More drastic reductions will be unavoidable, unless more funding is received, which will leave vulnerable people unable to meet their basic food needs and reverting to survival strategies such as skipping or reducing meals, selling assets, using child labor and child marriage.

The U.N. World Food Programme’s crisis response and resilience-building development programs are drastically underfunded this year. The U.N. World Food Programme requires $426 million dollars to reach 6 million food insecure people through 2022.

Notes for Editors: Food Security Situation in South Sudan

In 2022, food insecurity in South Sudan is alarmingly high. The latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) assessment warned that 7.74 million people will face severe acute hunger at the height of the lean season between June and August, while 1.4 million children will be acutely malnourished.

The U.N. World Food Programme is prioritizing its limited food assistance to reach 4.5 million people struggling with severe hunger across 52 counties in South Sudan, including 87,000 people in eight counties already experiencing catastrophic hunger and living in famine-like conditions.

A U.N. World Food Programme food ration includes cereals, beans, vegetable oil and salt.

This year, the U.N. World Food Programme plans to reach 6 million food-insecure people in South Sudan with food assistance, nutrition support, cash stipends and livelihoods opportunities to build the resilience of communities – prioritizing the most vulnerable and conflict-affected women, children and the elderly.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is 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, @wfp_Africa, @wfp_SouthSudan and @wfp_media

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