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.

 

Note to editors

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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

COX’S BAZAR – The almost 1 million Rohingya refugees and their host community in Cox’s Bazar remain vulnerable and need continued support almost five years after they were forced to flee their homes for safety, according to the latest Refugee Influx Emergency Vulnerability Assessment conducted by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and its partners.

The Rohingya’s extreme vulnerabilities are further exacerbated by large-scale hazards, including fires and floods that hit the camps in 2021. Almost all 900,000 refugees – 95% of them – remain entirely dependent on humanitarian assistance today. In the host community, where most families rely on daily-wage jobs, a slow economic recovery after COVID-19 lockdown measures has caused their vulnerability levels to increase, with 52% of the families considered moderately to highly vulnerable now compared to 41% in 2019.

“The Ukraine crisis is a stark reminder that no one chooses to be a refugee. In this year of unprecedented humanitarian need, we hope the international community won’t lose sight of the Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh, who are more vulnerable than ever and may be plunged further into destitution by the impact of food and fuel price hikes,” said Sheila Grudem, the U.N. World Food Programme senior emergency coordinator in Cox’s Bazar.

Access to food remains a top priority for both refugees and host communities, with 82% and 59% of families, respectively, reporting so. They are also worried about the continuation of food assistance. A growing number of families in both communities fall into debt to cover their most essential needs, such as food. This is particularly worrying as their ability to withstand any new shocks and stressors will be compromised.

In 2021, the U.N. World Food Programme continued to provide monthly cash-based food assistance to almost 900,000 Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar and increased the number of fresh food corners available at its retail outlets in the camps. All refugees can now purchase fresh fruits and vegetables, live chicken and fish from the outlets using their monthly entitlements known as “e-vouchers.” This assistance also provides substantial economic opportunities for the host community, injecting $11 million into the local economy every month.

The U.N. World Food Programme also continued its cash assistance to host community families affected by the economic consequences of COVID-19, reaching 450,000 people in 2021. The U.N. World Food Programme directly provides economic opportunities year-round in the host community through cash-for-work programs as well as livelihoods grants and business skills trainings.

“In 2022, we count on the continued support of all donors to help us provide vital assistance to Rohingya families as well as their host community, who has demonstrated remarkable solidarity by welcoming them almost five years ago. Any drop in funding will directly threaten the food security of refugees and make the recovery of the communities more difficult,” Grudem 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.

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ROME/MUNICH – There is a ring of fire stretching around the world where conflict and climate shocks compounded by COVID-19 and rising costs are driving millions of people to the brink of starvation – threatening to increase migration and instability globally this year, the Executive Director of the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley warned today.

“We have a ring of fire circling the earth now from the Sahel to South Sudan to Yemen to Afghanistan, all the way around to Haiti and Central America,” Beasley said at a session of the Munich Security Conference in Germany. “If we do not address the situation immediately over the next nine months we will see famine, we will see destabilization of nations and we will see mass migration. If we don’t do something we are going to pay a mighty big price.”

A total of 45 million people in 43 countries are teetering on the edge of famine with overall global needs for humanitarian assistance on a clear upward trend and are now higher than ever. Every region in the world is faced with the prospect of millions waking each day to empty plates, soaring food prices, economic downturn, ruined crops and violent conflict knocking on their door.

As global hunger rates and humanitarian needs shoot ever higher, the resources required to meet them are leveling off. Just this month, a funding crunch has forced the U.N. World Food Programme to reduce the size of the food rations received by 8 million people in Yemen. In the next few weeks there is a risk of further cuts. These come at the worst possible time as Yemenis deal with the consequences of a serious escalation in fighting and continued economic deterioration.

“We averted famine and catastrophe in 2021 and 2022 because nations stepped up. We thought COVID-19 would be behind us by 2022, but it only recycled again, exacerbating and creating economic catastrophes among the poorest countries around the world,” Beasley said. “The U.N. World Food Programme has the solutions and we’ve got the programs to stop this crisis, we just need the money, otherwise nations around the world will pay for it a thousand-fold.”

In the last two years, the number of food insecure people has jumped from 135 million to 283 million. This could spike further. In this unprecedented year, the U.N. World Food Programme’s assistance that is a lifeline for families in emergencies has to grow together with an increased stress on changing lives through building resilience so that more poor people on the brink of hunger are not pushed over the edge. Such work stabilizes communities in particularly precarious places and helps them better to survive sudden shocks without losing all their assets.

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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

ROME/COTONOU – The number of people on the brink of starvation across the Sahel has increased almost tenfold over the past three years and displacement by almost 400% as the region stares down a horrendous food crisis, the Executive Director of United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley, warned yesterday.

The region that runs south of the Sahara Desert is currently experiencing some of its driest conditions in many years. In just three years, the number of people marching toward starvation has skyrocketed from 3.6 million to 10.5 million in five countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The current crisis is expected to outpace previous years due to compounding factors including insecurity, an increase in poverty due to COVID-19 and dramatic increases in the cost of staple food.

“An absolute crisis is unfolding before our eyes in the Sahel region,” Beasley said from Benin, having just visited the U.N. World Food Programme operations in Niger and Chad. “I’ve been talking with families who have been through more than you can possibly imagine. They have been chased from their homes by extremist groups, starved by drought and plunged into despair by COVID’s economic ripple effects. We’re running out of money, and these people are running out of hope.”

While needs are sky high, resourcing to support the vulnerable is at rock bottom, forcing the U.N. World Food Programme into the difficult position of having to take from the hungry to feed the starving.  In Niger, for example, a shortage of funding means that the U.N. World Food Programme is cutting food rations by half.

The U.N. World Food Programme requires $470 million for the next six months to continue operations in the Sahel where, despite a challenging security context, it has worked with humanitarian partners to maintain lifesaving support reaching 9.3 million people in the five countries in 2021.

The U.N. World Food Programme has also been implementing resilience-building programs to help families thrive. In the last three years, the U.N. World Food Programme and communities have turned 270,000 acres of barren fields in the Sahel region of five countries into productive agricultural and pastoral land, changing the lives of over 2.5 million people. Communities that have benefited from the resilience building activities are faring relatively better against this unprecedented food crisis as they have been empowered to grow sufficient food to feed themselves, diversify their productions and income.

Meanwhile in Benin, where the threat of conflict spilling across from neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger into areas in the north is a growing concern, the government-funded school feeding program, jointly implemented with the U.N. World Food Programme, provides a nutritious meal to 700,000 children and has been vital in creating jobs and strengthening the local economy.

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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

CARACAS – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is expanding its school meals program in Venezuela to reach more than 110,000 students and school staff in the northwest of the country, building on a pilot program that started in July 2021 in the state of Falcón.

Extending school meals support beyond Falcón to the states of Barinas, Trujillo and Yaracuy, the U.N. World Food Programme will gradually increase the monthly food rations it distributes in 1,000 pre-primary and special education schools. The program targets schoolchildren under the age of six in areas identified by the U.N. World Food Programme as most affected by hunger. The long-term goal is to provide meals in 11 Venezuelan states, reaching up to 1.5 million people by the end of the 2022-2023 school year.

“What the children receive today will have a positive effect on them for the rest of their lives,” said Marco Selva, the U.N. World Food Programme’s deputy country director in Venezuela. “This expansion reaffirms our commitment to provide nutritious food to children at this critical stage, when their brains and bodies need it to reach their full potential.”

“We have received very positive feedback from parents in Falcón who, after several cycles of distribution, tell us that their children are livelier, putting on weight and eager to go to school,” Selva added.

In total, more than 156,000 U.N. World Food Programme take-home rations have been collected at schools in the state of Falcón by parents or guardians on behalf of schoolchildren since July. The rations, which aim to cover the caloric requirements of young children for a month, consist of 13 pounds of rice, nine pounds of lentils, one pound of iodized salt and one liter of vegetable oil.

The pilot phase in Falcón was carried out in coordination with school authorities and teachers, and in partnership with non-governmental organizations. The U.N. World Food Programme manages its own supply chain, from purchasing food to distributing rations in schools.

Preparations are underway for the U.N. World Food Programme’s rations to be provided to children in schools, as in-person classes have now resumed after being suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic. The U.N. World Food Programme engineers are evaluating school kitchens and cafeterias to ensure that hot meals can be safely cooked and served on location.

The U.N. World Food Programme is grateful to international donors that have confirmed funding towards operations in Venezuela which will guarantee implementation of the program until April 2022. The U.N. World Food Programme remains in conversation with potential donors to secure additional funding so that vulnerable Venezuelan children get a head start in life.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are 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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ROME – Golden Globe-nominated actor and director Daniel Brühl was today appointed a Goodwill Ambassador for the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP). As conflict, climate change and the impact of the pandemic increase global hunger, Brühl joins the world’s largest humanitarian organization in its mission to reach a world with Zero Hunger.

“The climate crisis is no longer a glimpse into the future but the daily reality for millions of people around the world. It is compounding existing global problems such as conflict and the devastating impact of the pandemic,” the German-Spanish actor said as he accepted his new role.

Without urgent global action, the world could face an exponential increase in hunger fueled by the climate crisis. A 2 degrees Celsius rise in average global temperature from pre-industrial levels will push an additional 189 million people into hunger. In a 4 degrees Celsius warmer world this figure could rise to a staggering 1.8 billion.

Increasing climate extremes are eroding development and putting lives and livelihoods on the line, Brühl noted. “I believe it is our shared responsibility to work towards a world with Zero Hunger. I would like to do my part and, as a Global Goodwill Ambassador, I have joined the U.N. World Food Programme in this fight.”

“We are thrilled to welcome Daniel Brühl as a U.N. World Food Programme,” said David Beasley, Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme. “Daniel has been an incredible supporter of our lifesaving work for more than five years. His commitment to ending hunger shines through and we are excited to work with him to build global support for our cause. But with up to 45 million right on the brink of famine, time is fast running out. We need everyone on board to avert this looming hunger catastrophe.”

With a career spanning more than 25 years, Daniel Brühl has become not only an internationally acclaimed actor, director and producer but also a role model both on and off-screen. Since 2015 he has supported the U.N. World Food Programme by starring in several advocacy campaigns.

In his role as U.N. World Food Programme Goodwill Ambassador, Daniel Brühl will help raise awareness for the millions of people going to bed hungry every night and engage his supporters in advocacy for a Zero Hunger world.

In addition, Brühl will use his platforms to inform his supporters about the main drivers of hunger and to showcase the U.N. World Food Programme’s efforts to tackle both immediate needs and root causes of hunger.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are 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

ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today warned that the number of people teetering on the edge of famine (IPC4/Emergency or worse) in 43 countries has risen to 45 million, as severe hunger spikes around the world. This number has risen from 42 million earlier in the year and 27 million in 2019.

“Tens of millions of people are staring into an abyss. We’ve got conflict, climate change and COVID-19 driving up the numbers of the acutely hungry, and the latest data show there are now more than 45 million people marching towards the brink of starvation,” said U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley after a trip to Afghanistan, where the U.N. World Food Programme is ramping up its support to assist almost 23 million people.

“Fuel costs are up, food prices are soaring, fertilizer is more expensive and all of this feeds into new crises like the one unfolding now in Afghanistan, as well as long-standing emergencies like Yemen and Syria,” he added.

The U.N. World Food Programme and its humanitarian partners are ramping up efforts to assist millions of people facing starvation. However, the needs are vastly surpassing available resources at a time when traditional funding streams are overstretched. The cost of averting famine globally now stands at $7 billion, up from $ 6.6 billion earlier in the year.

“As the cost of humanitarian assistance rises exponentially, we need more funds to reach families across the globe who have already exhausted their capacity to cope with extreme hunger,” he added.

Families facing severe hunger are also being forced to make devastating choices to cope with the rising hunger. The U.N. World Food Programme’s vulnerability analysis across the 43 countries shows families being forced to eat less, or skip meals entirely, feeding children over adults, and in some extreme cases being forced to eat locusts, wild leaves, or cactus to survive – as in Madagascar.

In other areas, families are forced to marry off children early or pull them out of school, sell off assets like livestock or what little else they have left. Meanwhile media reports from Afghanistan point to families reportedly being forced to sell their children in a desperate attempt to survive.

Food prices hit a ten-year high this month, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Price Index. This not only pushes food out of reach for millions of the poorest around the globe, but it also increases the cost of procuring food on global markets. Added to this are the high prices of fuel which also increases transportation costs and places a further strain on global supply chains – shipping a container cost $1,000 a year ago, but now costs $4,000 or more.

This year, the U.N. World Food Programme has already been undertaking the biggest operation in its history – targeting 139 million people across the 85 countries where it operates. This work covers both emergency food and nutrition needs, as well as work with partners to build resilience and increase the self-reliance of the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet.

NOTE TO EDITORS

INCREASE EXPLAINED

The increase from 42 to 45 million people is explained by recent food security assessment data that shows an additional 3 million people facing IPC4 in Afghanistan, alongside marginal increases in Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Angola, Kenya and Burundi (from 60,000 to 240,000 people).

Data on vulnerability and humanitarian needs are compiled from field-level food security assessments conducted via a consensus-based approach in partnership with multiple humanitarian agencies, including the U.N. World Food Programme. Sources include the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) and equivalent analyses.

SNAPSHOT ON MAJOR FOOD CRISES

In Afghanistan, recent assessments show that almost 24 million people have been pushed into severe hunger – including 8.7 million in Emergency IPC4 – as the devastating impact of multiple droughts combine with an economic meltdown to push families to the edge just as the harsh winter sets in. The U.N. World Food Programme is ramping up its support to assist up to 23 million people and requires an estimated $220 million a month in 2022.

In Ethiopia it was projected that more 4.3 million people across northern Ethiopia would be facing severe hunger by September with more than half of those – 2.2 million – in Emergency IPC4 or worse. As conflict escalates and in the absence of any updated analysis, it’s expected that this situation has worsened significantly and up to 7 million people across northern Ethiopia are facing severe hunger. The U.N. World Food Programme requires $245 million to respond across all three regions of Afar, Amhara and Tigray.

In drought-hit southern Madagascar, where climate is driving famine-like conditions, severe hunger has touched over 1.3 million people, including 512,000 in Emergency IPC4 or worse. Delayed rains this planting season signal another poor harvest and despair for families who are resorting to survival measures such as eating locusts, wild leaves and cactus leaves which are usually fed to cattle. The U.N. World Food Programme is scaling up its response and urgently needs $69 million over the next six months to reach one million people.

In South Sudan, humanitarian needs are outpacing the resources available for the U.N. World Food Programme to respond, and the situation has worsened as the country is battered by flooding that has swallowed entire villages. There are 7.2 million people who are severely food insecure (IPC3 or worse) with more than 1.4 million of those in Emergency IPC4 and more than 100,000 facing catastrophic (IPC5) levels of hunger. The U.N. World Food Programme urgently requires $568 million to maintain its operations for the next six months and significant funding gaps have already forced ration cuts so resources can be redirected to the most vulnerable people at risk of famine.

Some 12.4 million people in Syria do not know where their next meal will come from – a level of hunger higher than any time during the decade-long conflict. Conflict, mass population displacement, the impacts of the financial crisis in neighboring Lebanon, the decline in the value of the Syrian Pound and job losses due to COVID-19 have all contributed to Syria’s economic downturn. The U.N. World Food Programme is only 31 percent funded and urgently requires nearly $700 million until February 2022 to continue to support some 5.8 million people who depend on U.N. World Food Programme food assistance to survive.

Over half Yemen’s population (16.2 million) is now facing severe hunger with 5 million people facing Emergency IPC4. In addition to the ongoing conflict, the devaluation of the Yemeni riyal and soaring food prices have made it impossible for ordinary Yemenis to afford basic food. The U.N. World Food Programme provides emergency food assistance – as in-kind rations, vouchers or cash – to nearly 13 million people. But nearly 3 million continue to receive assistance on alternate months due to funding shortfalls and the U.N. World Food Programme is at risk of running out of food before the end of the year. We need $802 million to maintain current levels of assistance for the next six months.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are 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

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