ROME, ITALY — Conflict and insecurity, climate shocks and economic turbulence continued to play a key role in global food insecurity, according to “Global Report on Food Crises,” a new report from the Food Security Information Network (FSIN). Food insecurity refers to the lack of secure access to sufficient amounts of safe and nutritious food for normal growth and development and an active and healthy life.
Overall, more than 113 million people across 53 countries experienced acute hunger that required urgent food, nutrition and livelihoods assistance in 2018, the report said. This compares with 124 million people in 51 countries that faced acute hunger in 2017.
The report said eight countries accounted for two thirds of the total number of people facing acute food insecurity, with the worse food crises in 2018 noted in Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Sudan, South Sudan and north Nigeria.
“The modest decrease between 2017 and 2018 is largely attributed to changes in climate shocks,” the report said. “A number of highly exposed countries did not experience the intensity of climate-related shocks and stressors that they had experienced in 2017 when they variously faced severe drought, flooding, erratic rains and temperature rises brought on by the El Niño of 2015-16. These include countries in southern and eastern Africa, the Horn of Africa, Latin America and the Caribbean, and the Asia-Pacific region.”
In addition to those individuals described as food insecure, another 143 million people in 42 countries were determined to be living in “stressed” conditions on the cusp of acute hunger.
The primary driver of food insecurity in 2018 was conflict and insecurity, the report noted. Approximately 74 million people were located in 21 countries and territories affected by conflict and insecurity. Meanwhile, climate and natural disasters contributed to the food insecure status of another 29 million people. Economic shocks were the primary driver of acute food insecurity for 10.2 million people, the report said.
Looking ahead to 2019, the report identified Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Syrian Arab Republic, the Sudan, South Sudan and north Nigeria as most likely to remain at risk for severe food crises.
“Climate shocks and conflict will continue driving food insecurity and are expected once again to severely affect several regions,” the report said. “Dry weather in parts of southern Africa and drought in Central America’s Dry Corridor have dampened prospects for agricultural output. El Niño conditions are likely to have an impact on agricultural production and food prices in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“The needs of refugees and migrants in host countries are expected to remain significant in Bangladesh and the Syria regional crisis. The number of displaced people, refugees and migrants are expected to increase if the political and economic crisis persists in Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of).”
In order to establish a resilient, stable and hunger-free world, the world must end conflicts, empower women, nourish and educate children, improve rural infrastructure and reinforce social safety nets, the report said.
The report is presented jointly by the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations and the UN World Food Programme. For the full report, click here.