A comprehensive report into food crises around the world in 2018, released on Tuesday, found that 113 million people worldwide experience acute food insecurity.
The report, a collaborative effort between the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) – both operating under the umbrella of the United Nations – and the EU, examined the prevalence and underlying causes of hunger and food shortages. Data presented in the report showed that while overall incidences of acute food insecurity, defined as “when a person’s inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger”, had lessened slightly from 124 million in 2017, the number of countries where food insecurity had become a pressing issue has risen.
FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said: “It is clear from the Global Report that despite a slight drop in 2018 in the number of people experiencing acute food insecurity – the most extreme form of hunger – the figure is still far too high. We must act at scale across the humanitarian-development-peace nexus to build the resilience of affected and vulnerable populations. To save lives, we also have to save livelihoods.”
Eight countries housed just under two thirds of those suffering acute hunger: Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria and Yemen; while a further 13 countries, including Venezuela and North Korea, were not included in the report due to gaps in available data. According to the findings of the 2019 food crisis report, 29 million people experienced new incidences of acute food insecurity in 2018 as a direct result of climate change or extreme weather events.
Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said: “Food crises continue to be a global challenge, which requires our joint efforts. The EU continues to step up its humanitarian efforts. Over the last three years, the EU allocated the biggest humanitarian food and nutrition assistance budget ever, with nearly EUR 2 billion overall. Food crises are becoming more acute and complex and we need innovative ways to tackle and prevent them from happening. The Global Report provides a basis to formulate the next steps of the Global Network by improving our coordination mechanisms.”
The findings of the 2019 food crisis report led its authors to call for greater international cooperation to address the root causes of hunger and food insecurity, highlighting climate change, conflict and economic issues as major factors behind many global food crises. The authors urged greater collaborative efforts around the world to reduce international conflict, promote socioeconomic development and address the threat of climate change.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley said: “To truly end hunger, we must attack the root causes: conflict, instability, the impact of climate shocks. Boys and girls need to be well-nourished and educated, women need to be truly empowered, rural infrastructure must be strengthened in order to meet that Zero Hunger goal. Programmes that make a community resilient and more stable will also reduce the number of hungry people. And one thing we need world leaders to do as well: step up to the plate and help solve these conflicts, right now.”