Almost 124 million people in 51 nations experienced acute hunger in 2017.
This is an increase of 11 million persons from 2016, according to a report jointly authored by the Food and Agriculture Organization, World Food Programme (WFP) and European Union released on March 22.
“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,” the report explained. “Acute food insecurity and malnutrition are any manifestation of food insecurity found in a specified area at a specific point in time of a severity that threatens lives or livelihoods, or both, regardless of the causes, context or duration.”
The primary reasons for this increase were conflict and climate-related events. Conflict was the “main driver of food security” in 18 of the 51 nations with widespread acute hunger, while climate shocks were the main driver in 23 nations.
The nine nations and one region experiencing the highest levels of food insecurity due to conflict were Yemen (17 million), Democratic Republic of the Congo (7.7 million), Afghanistan (7.6 million), Lake Chad Basin (7 million), Syrian Arab Republic (6.5 million), South Sudan (6.1 million), Nigeria (5.2 million), Somalia (3.3 million), Burundi (2.6 million) and Iraq (2 million).
The 10 nations experiencing the highest levels of food insecurity due to climate shocks were Ethiopia (8.5 million), Malawi (5.1 million), Zimbabwe (4.1 million), Bangladesh (3.4 million), Kenya (3.4 million), Mozambique (3.1 million), Pakistan (2.7 million), Haiti (2.3 million), Uganda (1.6 million) and Madagascar (1.5 million).
The four most severe food crises in 2017 – in terms of funding shortfalls related to providing adequate food assistance – were Somalia (34 percent shortage), Nigeria (30 percent), Yemen (27 percent) and South Sudan (26 percent).
This continues a trend highlighted in a December 2017 United Nations’ Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs report noting increasing humanitarian needs and decreasing funds to meet those needs.
It is projected that 61 nations will have food security crises in 2018.
“”The fighting must stop now and the world must come together to avert these crises often happening right in front of our eyes,” David Beasley, WFP executive director, said in a press release announcing the joint report. “This Global Report on Food Crises shows the magnitude of today’s crises but also shows us that if we bring together political will and today’s technology, we can have a world that’s more peaceful, more stable and where hunger becomes a thing of the past.”