03.04.2017 |

Report warns 108 million people worldwide face severe food insecurity

Burundi - grim food security outlook (Photo: CC0)

Around 108 million people in the world faced severe food insecurity in 2016, according to new global report on food crises. The Food Security Information Network (FSIN), a global collaboration between the EU and USAID, regional food security institutions and UN agencies, says the figure is up 35% compared to 2015, when almost 80 million were affected by acute food insecurity. This dramatic increase is mainly due to conflict, record-high food prices in local markets in affected countries and extreme weather conditions caused by El Niño, which prevent people from accessing or producing food. “The numbers tell a deeply worrying story with more than 100 million people severely food-insecure, a level of suffering which is driven by conflict and climate change. Hunger exacerbates crisis, creating ever greater instability and insecurity,” said Ertharin Cousin, Executive Director of the World Food Programme.

The report offers a detailed analysis for countries facing acute food insecurity conditions and is based on the so-called IPC/CH classification, which comprises five phases from minimal food insecurity to famine. The 108 million people reported to be facing severe food insecurity, are categorized under IPC Phase 3 and above, estimating the population in crisis, emergency and famine. Civil conflict was the driving factor in nine of the 10 worst humanitarian crises, says the report. The acute and wide-reaching effects of conflicts left 17 million food insecure people in need of urgent assistance in Yemen, followed by Syria with 7.0 million people, South Sudan with 4.9 million and northeast Nigeria with 4.7 million people. Other countries that were affected by severe food insecurity due to conflict were Somalia, Burundi and Central African Republic. The report warns that the food security situation in these countries will continue to worsen in coming months.

In some countries, food security has been undermined by El Niño, which largely manifested in extreme weather conditions such drought and erratic rainfall, damaging agricultural livelihoods. The countries most affected were in eastern and southern Africa and include Somalia, Ethiopia (9.7 million), Madagascar (0.8 million), Malawi (6.7 million), Mozambique (1.9 million) and Zimbabwe (4.1 million). The authors warn that record staple food prices, especially in some southern African countries, Nigeria and South Sudan, also severely constrained food access for vulnerable people. “The cost in human and resource terms only increases if we let situations deteriorate,” said José Graziano da Silva, Director-General of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). “We can prevent people dying from famine but if we do not scale up our efforts to save, protect and invest in rural livelihoods, tens of millions will remain severely food insecure.” The report is different from FAO’s flagship publication, the State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World. The Global Report on Food Crises assesses acute food insecurity originating from major crises, referring to the ‘peak’ of the situation during the year, whereas the FAO report assesses the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals by monitoring long-term trends in chronic food insecurity. Only people with an inadequate calorie intake lasting for over one year are counted as food insecure. According to the latest estimates, 795 million people, almost one in nine, are currently undernourished. (ab)

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