About 258 million people in 58 countries suffered severe food insecurity last year due to conflict, climate change, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the war in Ukraine, according to a report released Wednesday.
People faced the risk of starvation and death in seven of these countries: Somalia, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Haiti, Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen, according to the Global Report on Food Crises, an alliance of humanitarian organizations funded by the United Nations and the Union European.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres has denounced the number of people facing severe food insecurity and in need of urgent food assistance for the fourth consecutive year, a “stark testimony to humanity’s failure” to meet the UN’s goal of ending world hunger.
Although last year’s increase was partly due to more populations being tested, the report also showed an increase in the severity of the problem, “highlighting a worrying deterioration trend.”
Rein Paulsen, director of emergencies and resilience for the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations, said that hunger was driven by several interconnected factors. Among them were the conflict, the impact of the climate, the effects of the pandemic, and the consequences of Russia’s war in Ukraine, which balanced the world trade in fertilizers, wheat, corn, and sunflower oil.
The impact was most severe in poorer countries that depend on food imports. “Prices have gone up (and) these countries have been negatively affected,” Paulsen said.
The expert called for a “paradigm change” for more funding devoted to agricultural interventions that anticipate food crises and try to prevent them.
“The challenge we have is the imbalance, the difference that exists between the amount of money given, what the funding is spent on, and the type of intervention needed to bring about change,” he said.
Severe food insecurity is defined as a situation where a person’s inability to eat properly puts their life or livelihood in immediate danger.