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.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

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

SANA’A / ROME – A United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)-charted vessel departed today from the Ukrainian Black Sea port of Yuznhy (Pivdennyi) with wheat grain destined for the agency’s humanitarian response in Yemen.

This is the second maritime shipment of U.N. World Food Programme food assistance to leave Ukraine since the beginning of the conflict in February. The MV Karteria, carrying 37,000 metric tons of wheat grain, will stop first in Turkey, where the grain will be milled into flour. It will then be shipped to Yemen, where over 17 million people are struggling with severe hunger – a figure that is expected to rise in the coming months.

The grain will provide a 110 pound bag of wheat flour to nearly 4 million people for one month and will help the U.N. World Food Programme address immediate gaps in assistance.

“The war in Ukraine has been the last straw in Yemen against a backdrop of prolonged conflict, the resulting economic crisis and dwindling funds for humanitarian response,” said U.N. World Food Programme Representative and Country Director in Yemen Richard Ragan. “It is paramount to get commodities flowing back into the country and especially grain – for humanitarian and commercial purposes. This is vital to keep prices at bay.”

Getting Ukrainian grain to the U.N. World Food Programme’s humanitarian operations in Yemen will ensure a double benefit to both Ukraine’s economy and famine-risk populations in areas of the world hardest hit by the global food crisis such as Yemen. Yemen is particularly reliant on direct imports of wheat flour – a key staple in Yemenis’ diet – from Russia and Ukraine. An estimated 46% of Yemen’s 2021 wheat imports came from Ukraine and Russia.

The deterioration of global food security is caused by multiple factors with the impact of the Ukraine crisis, including the loss of Ukrainian’s grain on global markets as well as the impact on fuel and fertilizer prices, adding further pressure. This has now pushed this number of severely hungry people to a record 345 million in 82 countries.

There is no single solution to the global food crisis, but the unblocking of Ukraine’s seaborne exports will address some global supply disruptions and allow Ukraine to empty its grain storage silos ahead of the summer season harvest. The increasing traffic in and out of Ukraine’s port is a positive signal, but it remains far below pre-conflict averages.

This shipment is the product of strong collaboration between the government sector and the private sector, which is key in our response to the global food crisis. The shipment is possible thanks to generous contributions from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance and the foundation of Howard G. Buffett, a long-time U.N. World Food Programme supporter who formerly served seven years as a Goodwill Ambassador.

Video is available for use by news organizations. Please contact: marco.frattini@wfp.org

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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.

YUZHNY / ROME – The first maritime shipment of Ukrainian wheat grain for humanitarian operations run by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) left Ukraine’s Yuzhny (Pivdennyi) port yesterday. The shipment marks another important milestone in efforts to get much needed Ukrainian grain out of the conflict-hit country, back into global markets and to countries worst affected by the global food crisis.

The shipment of over 50 million pounds of wheat grain will go to the U.N. World Food Programme’s humanitarian response in the Horn of Africa where the threat of famine stalks the drought-hit region. It is one of many areas around the world where the near complete halt of Ukrainian grain and food on global market has made life even harder for families already struggling with rising hunger.

“Getting the Black Sea Ports open is the single most important thing we can do right now to help the world’s hungry,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley. “It will take more than grain ships out of Ukraine to stop world hunger, but with Ukrainian grain back on global markets we have a chance to stop this global food crisis from spiraling even further.”

A record 345 million people in 82 countries are now facing severe hunger while up to 50 million people in 45 countries are right on the edge of famine and risk being tipped over without humanitarian support.

With commercial and humanitarian maritime traffic now resuming in and out of Ukraine’s Black Sea port, some global supply disruptions will ease with relief for countries facing the worst of the global food crisis. It will also allow Ukraine to empty its grain storage silos ahead of the summer season harvest.

Despite these positive developments, the world still faces an unprecedented food crisis. Immediate action is needed that brings together the humanitarian community, governments and the private sector to save lives and invest in long term solutions. Failure will cause people around the world to slip into devastating famines with destabilizing impacts felt by all.

This export of wheat is the product of strong collaboration between the private sector – which is key in our response to the global food crisis – and the government sector. The U.N. World Food Programme could not have arranged this shipment without critical emergency funding from USAID’s Bureau for Humanitarian Assistance, as well as significant contributions from the foundation of the long-time U.N. World Food Programme supporter and former Goodwill Ambassador Howard G. Buffett and Minderoo Foundation, the Australian philanthropic organization of Andrew and Nicola Forrest.

Video is available for use by news organizations. Please contact: Jonathan.Dumont@wfp.org

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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

WASHINGTON, DC (August 11, 2022) — Cargill has made a $10 million grant to World Food Program USA in support of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)’s response to the global hunger crisis, escalated by the collateral impact of the Ukrainian war. This generous grant, the largest donation ever made by Cargill to World Food Program USA, comes at a moment of unprecedented need as 345 million people face severe hunger and 50 million teeter on the brink of famine around the world. The grant will support the U.N. World Food Programme’s emergency food assistance and resilience building initiatives, reaching millions of people in Ukraine and in hunger hotspots around the world.

“We thank Cargill for their transformational grant, which will help provide people in communities across the globe with lifesaving food and greater stability for the future,” said Barron Segar, World Food Program USA President and CEO. “For more than 20 years, Cargill has been a steadfast partner that we can always count on, supporting school meals, small-scale farmers and disaster relief operations. Their support is a testament to the power of the private sector working together with us to address the root causes of hunger, while building resiliency.”

Disbursed in phases, the first half of Cargill’s grant will focus on emergency operations, providing food and cash-based assistance to conflict-affected people in Ukraine as well as other countries facing escalating hunger due to the impact of the war in Ukraine. The second half of the grant will focus on bolstering food systems and targeting the root causes of hunger in global hotspots impacted by the disruption of Ukraine’s exports.

“Cargill has a crucial role to play, addressing emergency hunger issues as well as long-term food security through our work across supply chains and through our corporate giving efforts. We know we can have more impact when we partner with organizations, like WFP, who are working to feed people around the globe every single day. This $10 million contribution reinforces Cargill’s commitment to continuing our 20-year partnership with WFP,” said Pilar Cruz, Chief Sustainability Officer at Cargill and World Food Program USA Board of Directors member. “Together, we will continue to work toward ending systemic hunger and ensure a safe, sustainable and affordable food system for all.”

The Ukraine crisis has triggered global price spikes in food, fuel and fertilizers that threaten to push countries around the world into famine. The result will be global destabilization, starvation and mass migration on an unprecedented scale. Together with World Food Program USA, the U.N. World Food Programme is sounding the alarm, engaging private sector partners, and working to ensure action is taken to avert this looming catastrophe.

A Longstanding Partnership

This is just one of numerous examples of Cargill supporting the U.N. World Food Programme’s tireless work to alleviate global hunger. Since 2001, Cargill has supported a range of the U.N. World Food Programme’s programmatic priorities, including school meals, programs for smallholder farmers and disaster relief operations in Africa, Central America and Asia.

Recent impact snapshot:

  • 2021: Cargill China launched a partnership with the U.N. World Food Programme to support the livelihoods of over 5,000 corn farmers in northeastern China by 2023.
  • 2020: While the world navigated the impacts of COVID-19, Cargill provided a grant to support school meal programs during the pandemic in Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua as well as disaster relief efforts in these countries after the devastating hurricanes, Eta and Iota. Over 250,000 meals were served to over 29,000 people. Additionally, in honor of WFP’s 2020 Nobel Peace Prize, Cargill made a match grant that has been supporting school meals and smallholder farmer programs in Central America planned to reach more 28,000 people.
  • 2019: Cargill supported the scale-up of the national school feeding program (Pro-GAS) in Indonesia. To date this program has fed over 100,000 students.
    2011: Cargill donated 10,000 metric tons of rice to help respond to famine in the Horn of Africa.

Cargill’s work with the U.N. World Food Programme embodies its purpose of nourishing the world in a safe, responsible and sustainable way.

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About World Food Program USA 
World Food Program USA, a 501(c)(3) organization based in Washington, DC, proudly supports the mission of the United Nations World Food Programme by mobilizing American policymakers, businesses and individuals to advance the global movement to end hunger. Our leadership and support help to bolster an enduring American legacy of feeding families in need around the world. Learn more about World Food Program USA’s mission.

About Cargill 
Cargill helps the world’s food system work for you. We connect farmers with markets, customers with ingredients and families with daily essentials—from the foods they eat to the floors they walk on. Our 155,000 team members around the world innovate with purpose, empowering our partners and communities as we work to nourish the world in a safe, responsible, sustainable way. ​

From feed that reduces methane emissions to waste-based renewable fuels, the possibilities are boundless. But our values remain the same. We put people first. We reach higher. We do the right thing. It’s how we’ve met the needs of the people we call neighbors and the planet we call home for 157 years—and how we’ll do so for generations to come. For more information, visit Cargill.com and our News Center.​

Media Contacts:

Toula Athas 
World Food Program USA
tathas@wfpusa.org

Emily Webster 
Cargill
media@cargill.com

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