Food crises became more driven by economic shocks, and the war in Ukraine increased acute food and nutrition insecurity.
New York, Washington, and Rome – According to the most recent Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), more than a quarter of a billion people experienced acute food insecurity and required urgent food, nutrition, and livelihood assistance in 2022. Additionally, people in seven countries were on the verge of starvation.
The Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC), a global alliance of the United Nations, the European Union, governmental and non-governmental organisations working to confront food crises jointly, today launched the annual report created by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN).
According to the report, 258 million people, up from 193 million in 53 countries and territories in 2021, experienced severe food insecurity at crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) in 58 nations and territories in 2022. The number is the highest in the report’s seven-year history. But a large portion of this expansion is due to an increase in the population under study. Although it rose to 22.7 percent in 2022 from 21.3 percent in 2021, the intensity of acute food insecurity is still unacceptablely high and is on the decline globally.
“More than a quarter of a billion people are currently struggling with severe hunger, and some are in danger of going hungry to death. In the report’s prologue, UN Secretary-General António Guterres stated, “That is intolerable. The seventh edition of the Global Report on Food Crises is a damning indictment of humanity’s failure to advance towards Sustainable Development Goal 2, which aims to end hunger and create food security and good nutrition for all.
The study found that just five nations—Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, portions of Nigeria (21 states and the Federal Capital Territory – FCT), and Yemen—hosted more than 40% of all people living in IPC/CH Phase 3 or higher.
At some point in 2022, residents of seven nations experienced catastrophe-level acute hunger (IPC/CH Phase 5), famine, and destitution. The majority of events (57%) occurred in Somalia, although similar extreme situations also occurred in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Haiti (for the first time in the country’s history), Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen.
In 39 countries, 35 million people (IPC/CH Phase 4) faced emergency-level acute hunger, with more than half of them living in just four nations: Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudan, and Yemen.
More than 35 million children under the age of five experienced wasting or acute malnutrition in 30 of the 42 main food crises contexts examined in the report, 9.2 million of whom had severe wasting, the most dangerous form of undernutrition and a significant factor in rising child mortality.
The economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the knock-on effects of the war in Ukraine have also emerged as major drivers of hunger, particularly in the world’s poorest countries, mainly due to their high dependence on imports of food and agricultural inputs and vulnerability to global food price shocks. Conflicts and extreme weather events continue to drive acute food insecurity and malnutrition.
In several significant food crises, economic shocks have superseded conflict as the main cause of acute food shortages and malnutrition. The resilience and capacity of nations to adapt to food shocks are weakened by cumulative global economic shocks, particularly sharp market disruptions and skyrocketing food prices.
Due to the significant contributions made by both Russia and Ukraine to the global production and trade of essential food commodities, such as wheat, maize, and sunflower oil, as well as fuel, agricultural inputs, and other essential commodities, the report’s findings confirm that the impact of the war in Ukraine has had a negative impact on global food security. In the first half of 2022, the conflict in Ukraine hindered trade and agricultural production in the Black Sea region, resulting in a historic peak in global food prices. While food prices have since decreased as a result of the Black Sea Grain Initiative and the EU Solidarity Lanes, the war still has an indirect impact on food security, especially in low-income, import-dependent nations, whose already fragile economies had already been battered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Breakdown of the main factors
In 27 nations with 83.9 million individuals in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above or equivalent, up from 30.2 million in 21 countries in 2021, economic shocks—including the socioeconomic effects of COVID-19 and the effects of the war in Ukraine—became the primary driver. Over the past three years, the economic resilience of developing nations has drastically weakened, leaving them with slower recovery times and a reduced capacity to withstand shocks in the future.
In 19 countries/territories with 117 million people in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above or comparable, conflict/insecurity was the main motivator. Conflict was identified as the primary cause of acute food insecurity in 2021 across 24 nations and territories, affecting 139 million people. The lower estimate is justified by the fact that, in Afghanistan, South Sudan, and Syria Arab Republic, three nations still grappling with lengthy crises, economic shocks outnumbered conflict as the primary cause of acute food shortage.
Extreme weather and climate were the main cause of acute food insecurity in 12 nations, where 56.8 million people—more than twice as many as in eight countries (23.5 million) in 2021—were in IPC/CH Phase 3 or higher or comparable. The Horn of Africa saw a prolonged drought, disastrous flooding struck Pakistan, and Southern Africa experienced tropical storms, cyclones, and drought.
Instead of merely addressing the effects of food crises as they happen, the international community has advocated for a paradigm shift towards greater prevention, foresight, and targeting. International organisations, governments, the commercial sector, regional organisations, civil society, and communities must all work together more effectively and with fresh ideas.
The activities should centre on providing more effective humanitarian aid, including cutting-edge strategies like proactive actions and safety nets that react to shocks. Scaling up core investments is crucial from a development standpoint in order to address the underlying causes of food crises and child malnutrition. Making agrifood systems more sustainable and inclusive is required for this, particularly through utilising nature-based solutions, ensuring that everyone has access to food, and improving risk mitigation. Additionally, there is a requirement for increased funding for child wasting prevention, early detection, and treatment.
“Systemic, fundamental change is required in light of this predicament. This paper demonstrates that advancement is feasible. The UN Secretary-General wrote in the foreword, “We have the data and know-how to build a more resilient, inclusive, sustainable world where hunger has no home, including through stronger food systems, and massive investments in food security and improved nutrition for all people, wherever they live.
The GNAFC released a communiqué along with the publishing of the study.
Conflicts, national and international economic shocks, and weather extremes continue to be connected more and more, feeding off of one another and having a domino effect that is detrimental to nutrition and severe food poverty. Furthermore, there is no sign that these forces will lessen in 2023: conflicts and insecurity are likely to continue, climate change is predicted to increase weather extremes, and the future for the national and global economies is bleak.
As of March 2023, forecasts for 2023 indicated that up to 153 million people (or 18% of the population under study) would be in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above. These projections were available for 38 of the 58 countries and territories. Additionally, it is anticipated that 310 000 individuals will be in IPC/CH Phase 5 throughout six nations, including Burkina Faso, Haiti, Mali, some of Nigeria (26 states and the FCT), Somalia, and South Sudan, with nearly 75 percent of them living in Somalia.
A person experiences acute food insecurity when their capacity to eat enough food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate threat. The Cadre Harmonisé (CH) and the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC), two widely used indices of acute hunger, are referenced. It differs from chronic hunger, which is covered in the yearly State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) report from the UN. Chronic hunger occurs when a person cannot eat enough food for an extended period of time to support a typical, busy lifestyle.
What the Global Network and Global Report Are
The Global Network Against Food Crises was established in 2016 and brings together the European Union, FAO, UNICEF, the United States of America, WFP, and the World Bank in an innovative partnership to enhance analysis, evidence, and consensus on the frequency and severity of food crises; enhance group efforts to prevent and address these crises; and enhance understanding of the underlying causes and connections between food crises and other shocks beyond food.
The Food Security Information Network (FSIN) creates the Global Report on Food Crises, which is the Global Network’s flagship product. By compiling the key global, regional, and national food security analyses through a transparent and consensus-based process involving 16 international humanitarian and development partners, the report has been providing a comprehensive global picture of the scope and magnitude of food crises since 2016. Its goal is to inform and promote timely, cost-effective, and need-based humanitarian, as well as resilience building actions.