Conflict, weather extremes, economic shocks, the lingering impacts of COVID-19 and the ripple effects from the war in Ukraine push millions of people in countries across the world into poverty and hunger as food and fuel price spikes drive nations closer to instability, says new hunger hotspots report.

ROME – The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today issued a stark warning of multiple, looming food crises, driven by conflict, climate shocks, the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and massive public debt burdens – exacerbated by the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine which has pushed food and fuel prices to accelerate in many nations across the globe. These shocks hit in contexts already characterized by rural marginalization and fragile agrifood systems.

The Hunger Hotspots – FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity report issued today calls for urgent humanitarian action in 20 “hunger hotspots” where acute hunger is expected to worsen from June – September 2022.

The report warns that the war in Ukraine has exacerbated the already steadily rising food and energy prices worldwide. The effects are expected to be particularly acute where economic instability and spiraling prices combine with drops in food production due to climate shocks, such as recurrent droughts or flooding.

“We are deeply concerned about the combined impacts of overlapping crises jeopardizing people’s ability to produce and access foods, pushing millions more into extreme levels of acute food insecurity,” said FAO Director-General QU Dongyu. “We are in a race against time to help farmers in the most affected countries, including by rapidly increasing potential food production and boosting their resilience in the face of challenges.”

“We’re facing a perfect storm that is not just going to hurt the poorest of the poor. It’s also going to overwhelm millions of families who, until now, have just about kept their heads above water,” warned U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley.

“Conditions now are much worse than during the Arab Spring in 2011 and 2007-2008 food price crisis, when 48 countries were rocked by political unrest, riots and protests. We’ve already seen what’s happening in Indonesia, Pakistan, Peru and Sri Lanka – that’s just the tip of the iceberg. We have solutions. But we need to act, and act fast,” he warned.

Key findings

The report finds that – alongside conflict – frequent and recurring climate shocks continue to drive acute hunger and shows that we have entered a ‘new normal’ where droughts, flooding, hurricanes, and cyclones repeatedly decimate farming and livestock rearing, drive population displacement and push millions to the brink in countries across the world.

The report warns that worrisome climatic trends linked to La Niña since late 2020 are expected to continue through 2022, driving up humanitarian needs and acute hunger. An unprecedented drought in East Africa affecting Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya is leading to a fourth consecutive below-average rainfall season, while South Sudan will face its fourth consecutive year of large-scale flooding – which will likely continue to drive people from their homes and devastate crops and livestock production. The report also expects above-average rains and a risk of localized flooding in the Sahel, a more intense hurricane season in the Caribbean, and below-average rains in Afghanistan – which is already reeling from multiple seasons of drought, violence and political upheaval.

The report also emphasises the urgency of the dire macroeconomic conditions in several countries – brought on by the fallout from the COVID-19 pandemic and exacerbated by the recent upheaval in global food and energy markets. These conditions are causing dramatic income losses among the poorest communities and are straining the capacity of national governments to fund social safety nets, income-supporting measure, and the import of essential goods.

According to the report, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen remain at ‘highest alert’ as hotspots with catastrophic conditions. Afghanistan and Somalia are new entries to this worrisome category since the last hotspots report released January 2022. These six countries all have parts of the population facing IPC Phase 5 ‘Catastrophe’ or at risk of deterioration towards catastrophic conditions, with up to 750,000 people facing starvation and death. 400,000 of these are in Ethiopia’s Tigray region – the highest number on record in one country since the famine in Somalia in 2011.

The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, the Sahel, the Sudan and Syria remain ‘of very high concern’ with deteriorating critical conditions, as in the previous edition of this report – with Kenya a new entry to the list. Sri Lanka, West African coastal countries (Benin, Cabo Verde and Guinea), Ukraine and Zimbabwe have been added to the list of hotspots countries, joining Angola, Lebanon, Madagascar and Mozambique which continue to be hunger hotspots – according to the report.

Scaling up anticipatory action to prevent disasters

The report provides concrete, country-specific recommendations on priorities for immediate humanitarian response to save lives, prevent famine and protect livelihoods, as well as anticipatory action. The recent G7 commitment highlighted the importance of strengthening anticipatory action in humanitarian and development assistance – ensuring predictable hazards don’t become full-blown humanitarian disasters.

FAO and WFP have partnered to ramp up the scale and reach of anticipatory action, to protect communities’ lives, food security and livelihoods before they need lifesaving assistance in the critical window between an early warning and a shock. Flexible humanitarian funding enables FAO and the U.N. World Food Programme to anticipate humanitarian needs and save lives. Evidence shows that for every $1 invested in anticipatory action to safeguard lives and livelihoods, up to $7 can be saved by avoiding losses for disaster-affected communities.

 

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About the report

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

The report provides country-specific recommendations on priorities for anticipatory action – short-term protective interventions to be implemented before new humanitarian needs materialize and emergency response – actions to address existing humanitarian needs. 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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About FAO

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 agri-food systems, making them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable for better production, better nutrition, better environment and 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. With over 194 Members, FAO works in over 130 countries worldwide.

About WFP

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.

About the Global Network Against Food Crises

Founded by the European Union, FAO and the U.N. World Food Programme in 2016, the Global Network Against Food Crises is an alliance of humanitarian and development actors working together to prevent, prepare for and respond to food crises and support the Sustainable Development Goal to End Hunger (SDG 2).

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA@wfp_media, @FAOnews, @FAOemergencies and @fightfoodcrises

CAIRO – The war in Ukraine has dealt a fresh hammer blow to Syria’s ability to feed itself just as the country struggles to deal with levels of hunger that are up by half since 2019, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said prior to an annual donor pledging conference held in Brussels.

With years of conflict, a severe economic downturn and food prices rising relentlessly since 2020, the Ukraine crisis is exacerbating what was already an alarming food security scenario in Syria. In March, food prices increased by 24% in just one month, following an 800% increase in the last two years. This has brought food prices to their highest level since 2013.

“Saying that the situation in Syria is alarming is a huge understatement. The heart-breaking reality for millions of Syrian families is that they don’t know where their next meal is coming from,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley. “The international community must recognize that not taking action now will inevitably lead to a catastrophic future for Syrians. They deserve our immediate and unconditional support.”

Some 12 million people in Syria – more than half the population – currently face acute food insecurity. That is 51% more than in 2019 and an additional 1.9 million are at risk of sliding into hunger. With basic meals becoming a luxury for millions, nutrition is becoming a serious issue.

Data from 2021 shows that one in eight children in Syria suffers from stunting while pregnant and nursing mothers show record levels of acute wasting. Both facts point to devastating health consequences for future generations.

Plagued by continual crises for over a decade, Syrian families have exhausted their ability to cope. As last resort measures, people are turning to extreme measures, such as child labor, early and forced marriages, and the removal of children from school.

Meanwhile, the U.N. World Food Programme’s resources are under more pressure than ever, and funding is not keeping pace with the staggering needs of people across the country. Over time, the U.N. World Food Programme has been forced to progressively reduce the size of the monthly food ration across the country. A 13% ration cut is looming this month in Northwest Syria, where people will start receiving food that translates into 1,177 kilocalories, just over half of the recommended daily intake.

The U.N. World Food Programme is 27% funded until October, with a shortfall of $595 million. Additional funding is urgently needed to continue to assist millions of people across the country. Without new funding, the U.N. World Food Programme could be forced to undertake additional drastic cuts in the coming months.

“In a year of unprecedented needs, the compounding effect of the war in Ukraine requires our donors to step in and help us avoid reducing rations or the cutting the number of people we assist,” emphasized Beasley.

Support from donors has allowed the U.N. World Food Programme to help millions of vulnerable Syrians obtain food when they have needed it most. Each month the U.N. World Food Programme distributes lifesaving food to 5.6 million people, injects around $3 million into local economy through cash-based transfers (CBT), provides fortified date bars, fresh meals and/or food vouchers to schoolchildren, and provides nutritional support to women who have recently given birth or will do soon.

“If I knew my life would end up like this, I wouldn’t have had my children; I would have saved them all this suffering,” said one mother in the western Syrian city of Hama.

Humanitarian assistance averted a catastrophe in the harsh winter months – but hunger continues across the country at unprecedented levels.

KABUL – 19.7 million people, almost half of Afghanistan’s population, are facing acute hunger according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) analysis conducted in January and February 2022 by Food Security and Agriculture Cluster partners, including the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and many NGOs.

The report predicts that the outlook for June-November 2022 sees a slight improvement in the food security situation, with a reduction in the number of people facing acute food insecurity to 18.9 million people. This is due in part to the coming wheat harvest from May to August and this year’s well-coordinated scale-up of humanitarian food assistance – alongside increased agricultural livelihood support. However, the report warmed that gains will be limited. Lingering drought and the deep economic crisis mean unprecedented hunger will continue to threaten the lives and livelihoods of millions of people across Afghanistan.

Of particular concern – and for the first time since the introduction of the IPC in Afghanistan in 2011 – a small pocket of “catastrophic” levels of food insecurity (IPC Phase 5) has been detected in the country. More than 20,000 people in the northeastern province of Ghor are facing catastrophic levels of hunger because of a long period of harsh winter and disastrous agricultural conditions.

“Unprecedented levels of humanitarian assistance focused on bolstering food security have made a difference. But the food security situation is dire. Humanitarian assistance remains desperately important, as do the needs to rebuild shattered agricultural livelihoods and re-connect farmers and rural communities to struggling rural and urban markets across the country. Unless these happen, there will be no way out of this crisis,” said Richard Trenchard, FAO representative in Afghanistan.

“Food assistance and emergency livelihood support are the lifeline for the people of Afghanistan. We mounted the world’s largest humanitarian food operation in a matter of months, reaching more than 16 million people since August 2021,” said Mary-Ellen McGroarty, the U.N. World Food Programme’s country director and representative in Afghanistan.

“We are working with farmers, millers, and bakeries, training women and creating jobs to support the local economy. Because the people of Afghanistan would much prefer jobs, women want to be able to work, and all girls deserve to go to school. Allowing the economy to function normally is the surest way out of the crisis, otherwise suffering will grow where crops cannot,” she added.

The upcoming harvest will bring some relief to millions of families struggling with income losses and food shortages. However, for many, the harvest will only offer short-term relief and very little opportunity for recovery. The war in Ukraine continues to put pressure on Afghanistan’s wheat supply, food commodities, agricultural inputs and fuel prices. Access to seeds, fertilizer and water for irrigation is limited, labor opportunities are scarce and enormous debts have been incurred to buy food over the last few months.

Both FAO and the U.N. World Food Programme continue to scale up their programs across the country. The U.N. World Food Programme has reached more than 16 million people so far in 2022 with emergency food assistance and is supporting local markets – working with retailers and local suppliers. The U.N. World Food Programme continues to invest in people’s livelihoods through skills training and climate adaption projects so that families can cultivate their land and grow their own food.

FAO continues to scale up its assistance to farmers and herders in rural areas and will assist more than 9 million people in 2022 through a range of interventions supporting crop, livestock and vegetable production, cash transfers, and the rehabilitation of vital irrigation infrastructure and systems.

Supporting agriculture is a cost-effective and strategic intervention that delivers great short-term impact as lifesaving support, while paving the way for longer-term recovery and sustainable development.

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The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is a specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. Our 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.

Follow us on Twitter and Facebook @FAOnews, @FAOAfghanistan and @FAO

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_Afghanistan

ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is today calling for the re-opening of the ports in the Odessa area of southern Ukraine so that food being produced in the war-torn country can flow freely to the rest of the world, before the current global hunger crisis spins out of control

“Right now, Ukraine’s grain silos are full. At the same time, 44 million people around the world are marching towards starvation. We have to open up these ports so that food can move in and out of Ukraine. The world demands it because hundreds of millions of people globally depend on these supplies,” U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley said. “We’re running out of time and the cost of inaction will be higher than anyone can imagine. I urge all parties involved to allow this food to get out of Ukraine to where it’s desperately needed so we can avert the looming threat of famine.”

With ports blocked because of the war, millions of metric tons of grain are sitting in silos in Odessa and other Ukrainian ports on the Black Sea. More grain is stranded on ships unable to move because of the conflict.

Unless the ports are reopened, Ukrainian farmers will have nowhere to store the next harvest in July/August. The result will be mountains of grain going to waste while the U.N. World Food Programme and the world struggle to deal with an already catastrophic global hunger crisis.

The U.N. World Food Programme’s analysis found that 276 million people worldwide were already facing acute hunger at the start of 2022. That number is expected to rise by 47 million people if the conflict in Ukraine continues, with the steepest rises in sub-Saharan Africa.

Before the war, most of the food produced by Ukraine – enough to feed 400 million people – was exported through the country’s seven Black Sea ports. In the eight months before the conflict began, close to 51 million metric tons of grain transited through the ports.

The disruption caused by the war has already pushed prices on food commodity markets well above the record highs reached earlier this year. In the month after the crisis started, export prices for wheat and maize rose by 22% and 20% respectively, on top of steep rises in 2021 and early 2022.

Food price hikes, coupled with the soaring cost of fuel, are driving up the U.N. World Food Programme’s operational costs by up to $71 million a month, effectively reducing its ability to respond to hunger crises around the world. This is equivalent to the cost of providing almost 4 million people with a daily ration for one month.

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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

DAKAR – The number of women, men and children affected by a food and nutrition crisis in West and Central Africa is expected to reach a new record high in June 2022 – quadrupling in just three years from 10.7 million in 2019 to 41 million in 2022 – unless appropriate measures are urgently taken, reveals the Cadre Harmonisé food security analysis released in March 2022.

Following the high-level conference in Paris on food security and nutrition situation in West Africa, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are calling for longer-term political and financial commitments to address the worst food security and nutrition crisis to strike the region in 10 years.

“The situation is spiraling out of control. Needs are escalating much faster than we are currently able to respond – this in an immensely complex and volatile operational environment,” said Chris Nikoi, the U.N. World Food Programme’s regional director for West Africa.

“Both governments and partners need a step-change in tackling the underlying drivers of hunger and malnutrition. Bold and rigorous political actions are needed now, including lifting barriers to the regional trade and ensuring the most acute needs are met during a lean season that is projected to be extremely challenging in the region,” Nikoi added.

There is a high risk that the food and nutrition crisis will be further aggravated due to persistent insecurity that continues to trigger massive population displacement, the impact of the climate crisis, disrupted food systems, limited food production, barriers to regional trade and the socioeconomic fallout from the pandemic which has devastated national economies. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is violently disrupting the global trade of food, fertilizers and oil products, with the already high prices of agricultural products reaching record highs not seen in the region since 2011.

While the increase in staple food prices has been steady in all countries in the region, a staggering 40% jump from the five-year average has been witnessed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger, Mali and Mauritania – pushing basic meals out of reach for millions of women, men and children.

“This unprecedented food crisis the region is facing offers an opportunity for us to address the root causes of food insecurity in the sub-region by developing food and agricultural systems that are less dependent on external shocks, and a more productive and efficient local agriculture with a particular emphasis on the consumption of local food products” said Dr Gouantoueu Robert Guei, Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa and FAO representative in Senegal.

The nutritional situation also remains a grave concern in the region, particularly in the Sahelian countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad where an estimated 6 million children under the age of five are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022. Nutritional analyses conducted across the Sahel and in Nigeria point to a crisis or emergency situation in several locations in Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria.

“Africa has the largest untapped potential of arable land, yet most of these countries import food. Governments need to support long-term agriculture plans for the next generation, including investments in developing agriculture, livestock and fisheries to achieve food security,” said Benoit Thierry, IFAD regional representative in West Africa.

The March 2022 Cadre Harmonisé projections suggest that in coastal countries, the number of food insecure people has doubled since 2020, rising from 3 million people in the June-August 2020 period to over 6 million in June-August 2022. This includes nearly 110,000 people facing Emergency (Phase 4) levels of food insecurity. The coastal region is likely to experience further increases in food prices and disruptions in the supply of agricultural products (especially fertilizers), due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“Acute food insecurity is no longer restricted to the Sahel; it is expanding into Costal countries. We need to respond in a way that is sustainable, at the right scale, and that tackles the multifaceted socio-political and socio-economic elements of the crises the region faces. This will only be achieved through enhanced collaboration, coordination mechanisms at national and regional levels, and leadership at all levels, including from governments, donors, and UN agencies,” Nikoi added.

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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, @WFP_WAfrica and @WFP_FR

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is the specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to eliminate hunger. Its goal is to achieve food security for all and to ensure regular and adequate access to good quality food for all, enabling people to lead healthy and active lives. With over 194 member countries, FAO works in more than 130 countries around the world.

FAO’s primary language accounts on Twitter are @FAO, @FAOArabic, @FAOenEspanol and @FAOenFrancais 

CAIRO – As the Muslim holy month of Ramadan begins, the soaring cost of food staples in import-dependent Middle Eastern and North African countries is creating ever greater challenges for millions of families already struggling to keep hunger at bay, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said yesterday.

Traditionally a month of festivities, when families gather over traditional foods to break their day-long fast, this year millions will be struggling to buy even the most basic foods for their families as the war in Ukraine has pushed food prices even higher than the troubling levels at the start of the year.

“We are extremely concerned about the millions of people in this region who are already struggling to access enough food because of a toxic combination of conflict, climate change and the economic aftermath of COVID-19,” said Corinne Fleischer, U.N. World Food Programme regional director for the Middle East and North Africa. “People’s resilience is at a breaking point. This crisis is creating shockwaves in the food markets that touch every home in this region. No one is spared.”

The knock-on effect of the Ukraine crisis is adding further strain to the import-dependent region. The prices of wheat flour and vegetable oil – two key staples in the diet of most families – have consequently risen across the region. Cooking oil is up 36% in Yemen and 39% in Syria. Wheat flour is up 47% in Lebanon, 15% in Libya and 14% in Palestine.

Even prior to the conflict in Ukraine, inflation and increasing prices were putting basic food items beyond the reach of the most vulnerable. Food prices reached an all-time high in February 2022, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index.

The cost of a basic food basket – the minimum food needs per family per month – registered an annual increase of 351% in Lebanon, the highest in the region. It was followed by Syria, with a 97% rise, and Yemen with 81% hike. The three countries, all reliant on food imports, also reported sharp currency depreciation. Meanwhile, a drought in Syria has impacted the country’s annual wheat production.

With global prices rising, the U.N. World Food Programme’s meagre resources for operations in the region, especially in Yemen and Syria, will be under even more pressure than before. In both countries, conflict and the related economic shrinkage have left more than 29 million people in need of food assistance. The U.N. World Food Programme is supporting nearly 19 million people in the two countries.

The global food price hikes and the Ukraine conflict have resulted in the U.N. World Food Programme facing an additional cost of $71 million per month for global operations compared to 2019 – a 50% rise.

“The Ukraine crisis makes a bad funding situation worse. There are immediate humanitarian needs that demand attention. Donors have in recent years helped us provide food to millions in the region. Now the situation is critical and it’s time to be even more generous,” added Fleischer.

The U.N. World Food Programme currently has only 24% of the funding it needs in Syria and 31% of what it needs in Yemen. Due to funding constraints, the U.N. World Food Programme has already been forced to reduce food rations in both countries. Further reductions risk pushing people towards starvation.

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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, @WFPYemen and @WFP_MENA

Earthquake Hits Afghanistan

Afghan families are reeling from the deadliest earthquake to hit their country in a decade. Across the globe, millions of people are facing the aftermath of natural disasters like this. They NEED emergency relief.

Earthquake Hits Afghanistan

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