Geneva, 21 January 2023 (TDI): The economic shocks, climate issues, conflicts & wars, & inflation are creating a global food crisis of unprecedented proportions. World Food Programme (WFP) reports, about 828 million people are unsure of whether their next meal is coming or not.
The world has a choice to act and invest in solutions, that ensure food security and stability. More than 349 million people in 79 countries are facing severe food insecurity since 2021.
After COVID-19, more than 900,000 people worldwide are fighting to survive in famine-like conditions. These statistics are alarming and an immediate response is needed.
The global community must achieve its target of ending hunger and malnutrition by 2030. WFP is facing several challenges such as the number of hungry people continuing to increase and funding is unlikely to match the pace.
The cost of delivering food assistance is very high because of inflation in food and fuel prices. This is heightening the risk of hunger and malnutrition.
Causes of Hunger and Famine leading to Food Crisis
The seismic hunger has caused due to various reasons. Firstly, conflict is the major reason. About 60 percent of the world’s hungry people are living in areas that are war-trodden and violence-stricken.
Currently, the ongoing crisis in Ukraine is evidence that how it has impacted the supply chain and generated a food crisis around the world.
The climate crisis is another cause of global hunger. Climate shocks are destroying crops, affecting land fertility and thus livelihoods. This is affecting people’s ability to feed themselves.
The prices of fertilizers have increased manifolds. The Ukrainian crisis also generated higher gas prices and a reduction in production supplies and exports.
This leads to a reduction in harvest. The crisis is expected in the production of maize, rice, soybean, and wheat. Costs are also increasing; WFP monthly costs are now reached above $73.6 million which accounts for a 44 percent rise.
In countries like Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen, WFP is already faced with hard decisions, including cutting rations to be able to reach more people.
Millions of people are on the brink of starvation. From Central America and Haiti, through the Sahel, Central African Republic, South Sudan, and then eastwards to the Horn of Africa, Syria, Yemen, and Afghanistan, conflict and climate shocks are creating food crises.
To mitigate the crisis, WFP has gathered $14 billion from around the world. The international community comes together to help the Somalian famine. But there is a need to do more to mitigate hunger from around the world.
Similarly, WFP has invested its energies in Syria but ran out of resources leading to a massive migration to European countries and generating the greatest refugee crises in recent European history.
WFP Efforts to Stop Hunger
WFP is doing efforts to build human capital, support governments in strengthening social protection programmes, and stabilize communities in dangerous places. Also, it is helping them to better survive sudden shocks without losing all their assets.
In the Sahel region, in Sahel Resilience Scale-up, WFP and local communities turned 158,000 hectares of barren fields into farm and grazing land.
Over 2.5 million people benefited from integrated activities. This equipped people better to withstand seasonal shocks and have improved access to vital natural resources.
This also created job opportunities and broke the cycle of hunger. Moreover, WFP successfully operationalized its flagship microinsurance programme.
The R4 Rural Resilience initiative – protects around 360,000 farming and pastoralist families from climate hazards that threaten crops and livelihoods.
WFP implemented the project in 14 countries in Africa and South East Asia. Similarly, it is working with governments in 83 countries, to boost and build national safety nets.
Also, nutrition-sensitive social protection, allows us to reach more people than we can with emergency food assistance.
Apart from humanitarian assistance, WFP has called for a coordinated effort across governments, financial institutions and the private sector and partners are the only way to mitigate an even more severe crisis in 2023.
The world also needs deeper political engagement to reach zero hunger. Political will and consensus can end the conflict in places like Yemen, Ethiopia, and South Sudan.