SANA’A – Yemen is spiraling into a catastrophe as humanitarian funding dries up, forcing the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) to scale back food assistance to millions of hungry families, U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley warned last week as he ended a two-day visit to the conflict-ravaged country.

“We have no choice but to take food from the hungry to feed the starving and, unless we receive immediate funding, in a few weeks we risk not even being able to feed the starving. This will be hell on earth,” Beasley said.

The escalation of conflict in Ukraine is likely to further increase fuel and food prices and especially grains in the import-dependent country. Food prices have more than doubled across much of Yemen over the past year, leaving more than half of the country in need of food assistance. Higher food prices will push more people into the vicious circle of hunger and dependence on humanitarian assistance.

The U.N. World Food Programme provides food assistance to 13 million people every month in Yemen, but was forced to halve food rations for 8 million people at the beginning of the year due to a shortage of funding. 5 million people who are at immediate risk of slipping into famine conditions have continued to receive a full food ration.

But without an immediate influx of cash, more severe reductions will be unavoidable and millions of hungry people may not receive food at all. For Yemenis, the timing could not be worse. As families try to put food on the table, they are being hampered by the knock-on effects of a serious escalation in fighting alongside the continuing deterioration of the economy.

Beasley met with government officials and spent time with families in hospitals and food distribution centers in Aden, Sana’a and Amran governorates. These governorates have alarming levels of food insecurity, with Amran even showing pockets of famine in the 2020 food security assessments.

The U.N. World Food Programme chief heard first-hand about the impact of cuts in assistance on families’ lives. He spoke to a mother caring for her severely malnourished child in an Amran hospital. She said she was displaced from Hajjah on the frontlines and could have stayed in her home had she received food for her children. Instead, she sold her furniture and sheep and took her children in search of food and safety.

“It has been less than a year since I was in Yemen and it is worse than anyone can possibly imagine. Yemen has come full circle since 2018 when we had to fight our way back from the brink of famine but the risk today is more real than ever,” said Beasley. “And just when you think it can’t get any worse, the world wakes up to a conflict in Ukraine that is likely to cause economic deterioration around the world especially for countries like Yemen, dependent on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia. Prices will go up compounding an already terrible situation.”

The U.N. World Food Programme needs $800 million in the next six months to provide full assistance to the 13 million people it has been assisting until now.

Last year, the U.N. World Food Programme delivered more than 1 million tons of food and over $330 million in cash and voucher assistance to families across Yemen.

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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 – We are deeply concerned about the evolving conflict in Ukraine and its potential impact on access to food for civilians in affected areas and on our operations globally. Our thoughts are with all those who have been caught up in this crisis and we echo the United Nations Secretary General’s call for an immediate ceasefire.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) team is on the ground, and we are ready to step up as needed provided that access is granted, and resources are available. We appeal to all parties to ensure that affected communities have continued access to any humanitarian support they may require and that the safety of humanitarian staff on the ground is guaranteed.

Conflict is a main driver of hunger and food insecurity in the world. We now have 283 million people marching towards starvation with 45 million knocking on famine’s door. The world cannot afford to let another conflict drive the numbers of hungry people even higher.

The Black Sea basin is one of the world’s most important areas for grain and agricultural production, and the food security impact of the conflict will likely be felt beyond Ukraine’s border, especially on the poorest of the poor. Interruption to the flow of grain out of the Black Sea region will increase prices and add further fuel to food inflation at a time when its affordability is a concern across the globe following the economic damage caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

The U.N. World Food Programme operated in eastern Ukraine from 2014 to 2018, reaching more than 1 million people through cash, food vouchers or locally purchased food rations, while operating in both government- and non-government-controlled areas. We remain committed to support all affected populations in Ukraine and in neighboring countries as required.

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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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ANTANANARIVO – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), along with the Government of Madagascar is providing food, logistics, IT assistance and an airlink to support relief operations in the districts of Mananjary and Manakara badly affected by Cyclone Batsirai that made landfall on February 5.

Before the storm hit, the U.N. World Food Programme had already started providing hot meals to evacuees in shelters in Manakara. Food prepositioned by the U.N. World Food Programme in Manakara and Tamatave, ahead of the cyclone, has started reaching affected communities, with additional stocks making their way to the areas worst hit. The U.N. World Food Programme is also supporting assessments to ascertain the full impact of the cyclone.

“The U.N. World Food Programme is working round the clock to ensure food and essentials reach those whose lives have been turned upside down by the cyclone. Our logistics and IT support to humanitarian partners is ensuring a timely and efficient response to the disaster,” said Pasqualina Disirio, the U.N. World Food Programme’s country director in Madagascar. “We are seeing severe damage including destruction of the rice crop that was just weeks away from harvest. Cash crops like cloves, coffee and pepper have also been affected in a region where the majority of people make a living from agriculture.”

  • The U.N. World Food Programme has distributed 10,000 hot meals in cyclone shelters in Manakara, since February 3, 2022.
  • Some 8.7 metric tons (MT) of prepositioned food has been distributed to displaced people in Manakara and 3.4 MT has been distributed in Vohipeno, while another 5.2 MT will be distributed over the coming days.
  • In addition, around 160 MT of food is being transported to Mananjary.
  • Cash distributions for nearly 1,400 households are ongoing in Farafangana.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme is supporting the government in its rapid assessment including an aerial survey. The United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) is conducting special flights in coordination with OCHA to assess the impact of the cyclone. UNHAS continues the air bridge between Antananarivo and Mananjary and other areas to support the response.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme will also provide road transport to partners between Manakara and Mananjary to enable relief efforts. The U.N. World Food Programme has already provided logistic support for relief goods such as tents, wooden pallets and tarpaulins.
  • The U.N. World Food Programme has deployed staff to assess IT needs of the entire humanitarian community in the areas worst affected. In preparation for the cyclone, the U.N. World Food Programme provided government authorities with IT equipment (smartphones and power banks), a vehicle as well as access to MoDA (U.N. World Food Programme’s data collection platform) in order to fast-track the registration and management of displaced people eligible for aid.

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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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Nairobi – The Horn of Africa is experiencing the driest conditions recorded since 1981, with severe drought leaving an estimated 13 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia facing severe hunger in the first quarter of this year, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) warned today.

Three consecutive failed rainy seasons have decimated crops and caused abnormally high livestock deaths. Shortages of water and pasture are forcing families from their homes and leading to increased conflict between communities. Further forecasts of below-average rainfall are threatening to worsen and compound dire conditions in the coming months.

“Harvests are ruined, livestock are dying and hunger is growing as recurrent droughts affect the Horn of Africa,” said Michael Dunford, regional director in the U.N. World Food Programme Regional Bureau for Eastern Africa. “The situation requires immediate humanitarian action and consistent support to build the resilience of communities for the future.”

The drought has impacted pastoral and farmer populations across southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, south-eastern and northern Kenya and south-central Somalia. The impacts are compounded by increases in staple food prices, inflation and low demand for agricultural labour, further worsening families’ ability to buy food. Malnutrition rates also remain high across the region and could worsen if no immediate action is taken.

Across the three drought-affected countries, the U.N. World Food Programme is providing lifesaving food and nutrition assistance to affected communities. Additionally, U.N. World Food Programme cash grants and insurance schemes are helping families buy food to keep their livestock alive or compensating them for their losses.

As needs across the Horn of Africa grow, immediate assistance is critical to avoid a major humanitarian crisis, like the one the world witnessed in 2011 when 250,000 people died of hunger in Somalia. This week the U.N. World Food Programme launches its Regional Drought Response Plan for the Horn of Africa, calling for $327 million to respond to immediate needs of 4.5 million people over the next six months and help communities become more resilient to extreme climate shocks.

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Note to Editors:

“With the drought, the livestock we have are in danger. Our livelihood depends on them, so we are doing everything we can to keep them healthy. Every morning we lead our cattle to graze at a pasture far away, but even that area is drying up,” said Elamu, a mother of seven in Ethiopia who is impacted by drought.

The U.N. World Food Programme is supporting Elamu with cash transfers through the anticipatory action initiative. After providing Elamu and others crucial information about the upcoming drought, the U.N. World Food Programme provided Elamu $42 each month to help her ready her livestock for the impacts from drought. Elamu is one of almost 3,000 pastoralist households who are receiving cash transfers and one of 16,000 receiving early warning messages from the U.N. World Food Programme to help manage the drought in Ethiopia’s Somali Region.

In Ethiopia, an estimated 5.7 million people affected by severe drought need food assistance. The U.N. World Food Programme aims to support 2.9 million people with food relief in the Somali Region, 585,000 malnourished children and mothers with nutrition treatment, and 80,000 households with mothers or young children with preventative treatment against malnutrition. This emergency response will be complemented by expanding microinsurance support for up to 18,000 at-risk pastoralists. The U.N. World Food Programme is also seeking to add 50,000 children to its school meals program, which currently reaches 87,000 children across 254 schools in other drought affected regions of Oromia and SNNP.

In Kenya, the government declared the drought a national emergency in September 2021 and an estimated 2.8 million people are in need of assistance. The U.N. World Food Programme aims to provide urgent food assistance to more than 890,000 people in the worst affected counties as well as scale up malnutrition treatment and prevention programs for women and children. The U.N. World Food Programme will also extend microinsurance support for small-scale farmers.

In Somalia, the number of acutely food insecure people (IPC 3+) is expected to increase from 3.5 to 4.6 million between February-May 2022 if humanitarian assistance is not received. The U.N. World Food Programme is aiming to scale up its food assistance to support an additional 600,000 people in the first half of this year, reaching a total of almost 2.5 million. To help prevent and treat the implications of drought, the U.N. World Food Programme will also provide nutrition support to women and children. The U.N. World Food Programme is also continuing livelihoods, resilience and food systems programs to protect recent development gains and strengthen vulnerable Somalis against droughts and other crises in the long term.

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Washington, DC | Feb. 6, 2022 – Our hearts go out to those impacted by Cyclone Batsirai, which made landfall on the east coast of Madagascar on Saturday evening with wind gusts of 146 mph. At least six people are confirmed dead and nearly 50,000 displaced to date. Whole villages are reported to be almost completely wiped out. The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) estimates that as many as 150,000 could be forced to leave their homes. In a double whammy for vulnerable communities, the cyclone comes hot on the heels of Storm Ana two weeks ago, which severely damaged livelihoods, agricultural land, and key infrastructure in Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi.

World Food Program USA is closely monitoring the unfolding crisis and stands ready to support the U.N. World Food Programme’s emergency response. In anticipation of Cyclone Batsirai, the U.N. World Food Programme pre-positioned 50 metric tons of food to quickly provide assistance. The U.N. World Food Programme is also strengthening its supply chain and IT capacities to support the government’s emergency response.

“We stand committed to the people of Madagascar and will do everything we can to reach vulnerable families in their time of need,” said Barron Segar, President and CEO of World Food Program USA. “But we can’t do it without the support of donors. Please join us as we work to provide urgent relief to storm victims.”

In Southern Africa, where livelihoods and economies are highly dependent on weather fluctuations, frequent climate extremes like cyclones are driving hunger and eroding development. With no time or means to recover, communities rely on humanitarian assistance. In Madagascar, the U.N. World Food Programme helps communities build resilience so they can withstand shocks and protect development. This work is key to mitigating the impacts of increasingly frequent and destructive storms that increase food insecurity.

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

World Food Program USA, a 501©(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. To learn more about World Food Program USA’s mission, please visit wfpusa.org/mission-history.

Media Contact:
Toula Athas
Director, Communications
tathas@wfpusa.org
202-627-3940

JOHANNESBURG – Lives, livelihoods, and harvest at risk as Tropical Cyclone Batsirai on course to hit Madagascar, already reeling from the impact of Storm Ana that hit in late January, the United Nations World Food Programme warned today. The cyclone is also expected to bring heavy rains to Mozambique.

“Frequent cyclones during the agricultural season mean loss of harvest, high food prices and increased food insecurity,” said WFP Deputy Regional Director Margaret Malu. “The people of Southern Africa have been on the front lines of climate extremes for many years now and each passing storm sets them back, resetting the progress made.”

Two weeks after Storm Ana ploughed through Madagascar, Mozambique and Malawi, causing heavy flooding, destruction to homes and public infrastructure and displacing communities, WFP is preparing for the impending arrival of Cyclone Batsirai, expected to hit the east coast of Madagascar over the weekend.

“WFP is on the ground, and we are ready to provide logistics support to governments and NGO partners to aid relief efforts and drones and boats in case of flooding. We have also prepositioned food to be able to quickly provide emergency food assistance.”

In response to Storm Ana, WFP, working closely with governments, has provided logistics support to search and rescue efforts, conducted needs assessments and organized food distributions. WFP continues its lean season food distributions, livelihood programmes and school feeding activities, where possible.

Cyclone Batsirai has the potential to derail relief efforts underway in the aftermath of Storm Ana that hit not only Madagascar but also Mozambique and Malawi, where the impact of Cyclone Idai in 2019 is still fresh in the minds of vulnerable communities who are struggling to build back their lives.

Extreme weather events like cyclones have become more frequent and intense in Southern Africa driving hunger and eroding development, sometimes in a matter of hours. The ongoing cyclone season (October 2021 to May 2022) is expected to see eight to twelve tropical systems.

WFP’s resilience programmes such as building dams and irrigation systems, drought resilient farming methods and rehabilitating forests support food security in the long term and help communities cope with future shocks better.

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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

ADDIS ABABA –  A new food security assessment, released today by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), shows that almost 40 percent of Tigrayans are suffering an extreme lack of food, after 15 months of conflict. Meanwhile, across all three conflict-affected regions of the north more than 9 million people are in need of humanitarian food assistance, the highest number yet.

The Tigray Emergency Food Security Assessment found that 83 percent of people are hungry. Families are exhausting all means to feed themselves, with three-quarters of the population using extreme coping strategies to survive. Diets are increasingly impoverished as food items become unavailable and families rely almost exclusively on cereals while limiting portion sizes and the number of meals they eat each day to make whatever food is available stretch further.

In terms of nutrition, the survey found that 13 percent of Tigrayan children under 5 and half of all pregnant and breastfeeding women are malnourished, leading to poor pregnancy outcomes, low-birth weight, stunting and maternal death.

“This bleak assessment reconfirms that what the people of northern Ethiopia need is scaled up humanitarian assistance, and they need it now,” said Michael Dunford, the U.N. World Food Programme’s regional director for Eastern Africa.

“The U.N. World Food Programme is doing all it can to ensure our convoys with food and medicines make it through the frontlines. But if hostilities persist, we need all the parties to the conflict to agree to a humanitarian pause and formally agreed transport corridors, so that supplies can reach the millions besieged by hunger.”

In neighboring Amhara region, hunger has more than doubled in five months because the region bore the brunt of recent fighting between the Ethiopian National Defence Force (ENDF) and the Tigray Forces (TF). More than 14 percent of children under five and almost a third of pregnant and breastfeeding women are malnourished.

In Afar region, to the east of Tigray, conflict-driven displacement is pushing hunger and malnutrition rates up. Recent health screening data shows malnutrition rates for children under five were at 28 percent, far above the standard emergency threshold of 15 percent. Intensified conflict on the Tigray-Afar border in recent days is expected to force more communities from their homes and deeper into hunger.

The U.N. World Food Programme estimates that on average, crisis-affected families in northern Ethiopia were getting less than 30 percent of their caloric needs in the past months, pushing people deeper into crisis. It’s expected that that constant humanitarian food assistance will be required at least throughout 2022.

Since March, and despite the challenges posed to operations, the U.N. World Food Programme has reached almost 4 million people across northern Ethiopia with food and nutrition assistance. The survey found that when access to Tigray improved during the summer months, humanitarian assistance from the U.N. World Food Programme and its partners kept starvation at bay for those who had been cut off from assistance prior to May.

More recently, however, no convoy has reached Tigray since mid-December. Fighting and insecurity means the U.N. World Food Programme and other humanitarian actors are struggling to reach areas areas isolated by conflict, in conditions that risk the safety of staff and the security of humanitarian supplies.

The U.N. World Food Programme’s northern Ethiopia response urgently requires $337 million to deliver assistance over the next six months, and will begin running out of the capacity to purchase food from February. Across the entire country, the U.N. World Food Programme has an unprecedented funding gap of $667 million to save and change the lives of 12 million people over the next six months.

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Note to Editors
Video footage here
Photos here
Full report here

Additional footage: October 2021, September 2021, June 2021.

Key Findings

  • The U.N. World Food Programme conducted a food security assessment in Tigray during and just after the main harvest in November 2021. More than 980 families across Tigray were interviewed for the assessment.
  • The assessment shows levels of food security in Tigray have plummeted over the past 15 months.
  • 4.6 million people are estimated to be food insecure in Tigray (excluding western Tigray), which is 83 percent of the population.
  • 2 million people (37 percent) are severely food insecure (equivalent to IPC 4 and 5 levels.)
  • In October 2020, prior to the conflict, an estimated 93 percent of people said they had no or little experience of hunger. Now, less than half can say the same (45 percent.)
  • Levels of food insecurity are most worrying in northwestern, eastern, and central zones of Tigray, where families are suffering from severe to very severe levels of hunger.
  • Three-quarters of the Tigray population are using unsustainable coping strategies to feed themselves. This includes limiting portion sizes and/or the number of meals per day.
  • Four in five surveyed households report consuming inadequate diets. People reported almost exclusively relying on cereals for food, showing a lack of dietary diversity.
  • More than one-third of households were reporting that their main source of food was through community-based support such as direct in-kind donations or loans, purchases on credit or begging. This shows that reliance on social networks and community coping capacities have been critical in maintaining minimal levels of consumption over many months.
  • The survey found that humanitarian assistance from the U.N. World Food Programme and its partners had provided a much needed injection of food supplies during the summer months, when access was improved in the Tigray region. This lifesaving food assistance was shared among the community and kept starvation at bay for those who had been cut off from assistance prior to May. Among those in pockets of extreme concern, the number of families facing severe hunger nearly halved between May to November (from 27-34 percent in May, down to 14.7 percent in November.)

The Tigray Emergency Food Security Assessment cannot be compared like-for-like with the IPC which was release last June, since the analytical approach of this assessment doesn’t allow for a direct comparison. This is the first reliable food security assessment that has taken place since the IPC.

Similar assessments are planned for Afar and Amhara to determine the impact of the conflict on people’s food insecurity across northern Ethiopia.

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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, @WFP_Ethiopia and @WFP_Africa

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