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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Key Findings

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Humanitarian Action Is Critical to Preventing Starvation and Death

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

Note to Editors

Photos from Hotspot Countries available here.

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

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

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The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) is a specialized agency that leads international efforts to defeat hunger. It aims at transforming agrifood systems, making them more efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable for better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life, leaving no-one behind. FAO’s goal is to achieve food security for all and make sure that people have regular access to enough high-quality food to lead active, healthy lives.

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note to the editor

Click here for photos and here for video footage.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @WFPPakistan

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

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

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

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

KABUL – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) has rapidly deployed food and logistics equipment to support communities devastated by the June 22nd earthquake that struck near the city of Khost. 18 trucks are being deployed to the earthquake-affected areas carrying emergency supplies, including High Energy Biscuits (HEB) and mobile storage units. The U.N. World Food Programme plans to provide emergency food to an initial 3,000 households and is ready to ramp up its support pending results of ongoing post-disaster assessments.

The U.N. World Food Programme – together with humanitarian partners – has been assessing earthquake damage and the needs of families on the ground. The remote districts of Giyan and Barmal in the Paktika province and Spera in the Khost province are among the areas worst hit. In Barmal, more than 70% of homes were completely destroyed. At least 1,000 people have reportedly been killed, with 2,000 others injured. However, rescue efforts have been hampered by heavy rain and winds, as well as poor connectivity in affected areas.

“The Afghan people are already facing an unprecedented crisis following decades of conflict, severe drought and an economic downturn. The earthquake will only add to the already massive humanitarian needs they endure daily, including for the nearly 19 million people across the country who face acute hunger and require assistance. Our teams rapidly mobilized and will continue to provide support to help affected families get through this latest tragedy,” said Gordon Craig, U.N. World Food Programme deputy country director in Afghanistan.

The U.N. World Food Programme works in all 34 provinces of the country and has a fleet of 239 trucks on the road every day, delivering food to some 800 food distribution sites across the country. In May, the U.N. World Food Programme provided 590,000 people in Paktika province and 320,000 in Khost with emergency food and nutrition assistance. Since the start of 2022, the U.N. World Food Programme has assisted 18 million people with food, cash and livelihoods support in Afghanistan.

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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

Our hearts go out to families impacted by the devastating 5.9 magnitude earthquake that struck South-West of Khost, Afghanistan near the border with Pakistan on June 22. We are deeply saddened by the devastation and loss. World Food Program USA is working to support the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP)’s emergency response. U.N. World Food Programme teams rapidly mobilized to provide emergency support, deploying 18 trucks to the earthquake-affected areas carrying emergency supplies, including High Energy Biscuits (HEB) and mobile storage units. The U.N. World Food Programme plans to provide emergency food to an initial 3,000 households and is ready to ramp up its support pending results of ongoing post-disaster assessments. The U.N. World Food Programme – together with humanitarian partners – has been assessing earthquake damage and the needs of families on the ground. The remote districts of Giyan and Barmal in the Paktika province and Spera in the Khost province are among the areas worst hit. In Barmal, more than 70% of homes were completely destroyed. At least 1,000 people have reportedly been killed and 2,000 others injured. However, rescue efforts have been hampered by heavy rain and winds, as well as poor connectivity in affected areas.

The country is facing an unprecedented humanitarian crisis after decades of conflict, severe drought and a devastating economic crisis. This earthquake will only add to the already massive needs, including food insecurity for 19 million people. Operating in Afghanistan since 1963, the U.N. World Food Programme works in all 34 provinces and has a fleet of 239 trucks on the road every day, delivering food to some 800 distribution sites across the country. The U.N. World Food Programme has so far provided emergency food and nutrition assistance to 18 million people across Afghanistan this year, and in May we have assisted almost 320,000 people in Khost and more than 590,000 in Paktika provinces.

We stand committed to the people of Afghanistan and will do everything we can to reach vulnerable families in their time of great need. But we can’t do it without the support of donors. Please join us as we work to feed millions of vulnerable people.

 

Media Contact:
Abigail Seiler 
Senior Manager, Public Relations
World Food Program USA
aseiler@wfpusa.org
443-843-4368 (cell)

ANTANANARIVO – Tropical Cyclone Emnati, which made landfall in Madagascar on Wednesday, threatens food security and is an example of how weather extremes will trigger runaway humanitarian needs if we do not tackle the climate crisis, warns the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) just days ahead of the launch of a report by the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC).

Crashing into vulnerable communities already at breaking point, Cyclone Emnati is bound to deepen hunger including in southern Madagascar, which has been reeling from years of severe drought – another manifestation of the country’s vulnerability to climate extremes. Given how dry the land is in these areas, there are now concerns regarding the risk of flash floods.

The storms – Emnati, Dumako, Batsirai and Ana – have wrecked the island nation, causing widespread damage to agricultural land including the rice crop that was just weeks away from harvest. Cash crops like cloves, coffee and pepper have also been severely affected. In a country where the majority of people make a living from agriculture, an estimated 90% of crops could be destroyed in some areas of affected regions. The back-to-back storms have impacted market supplies with the potential to send food prices soaring and food insecurity spiraling in the coming months. Forecasts predict another tropical system already forming in the south-west Indian ocean.

“What we are seeing in Madagascar is extreme climate impacts – a series of storms and prolonged drought affecting hundreds of thousands of people,” said Brian Lander, the U.N. World Food Programme’s deputy director of emergencies. “While the U.N. World Food Programme is providing essential food in the aftermath of the storms, we need to be equally fast in thinking about how these communities are going to adapt to this new reality.”

As it did to alleviate the impacts of the other recent storms, the U.N. World Food Programme has stepped up to support the government-led response to Emnati with food and cash assistance, prioritizing displaced families in the worst-off locations as well as with IT and logistics support. The U.N. World Food Programme-run United Nations Humanitarian Air Service (UNHAS) is operating damage-assessment flights and an airbridge between the capital, Antananarivo, and hard-hit, hard-to-reach areas for aid workers and their equipment.

While the U.N. World Food Programme is in a race against time to assist those affected, our longer-term climate adaptation work helps communities prepare for, respond to and recover from climate shocks and stresses. For example, the U.N. World Food Programme’s integrated risk management in the districts of Ambovombe and Amboasary last year reached 3,500 small-scale farmers with insurance, savings and climate-adapted agriculture practices training. The program saw a $350,000 payout during the rainy season and a $157,500 payout during the dry season in 2021. Such programs need to be scaled up, especially for communities on the frontlines of the climate crisis.

Across the world, the climate crisis continues to drive global hunger. In 2020, extreme weather contributed to most of the world’s food crises and was the primary cause of severe food insecurity in 15 countries. The U.N. World Food Programme’s effective and scalable solutions, especially in fragile environments, help vulnerable communities adapt to the harsh reality of the climate crisis and preserve development gains.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @wfp_media and @wfp_africa

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

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