Millions in need of help as a food crisis spans across the globeLast Update：2023/03/23
Right now, our world is facing the most severe food crisis in decades.
According to a United Nations report in 2022, due to a mix of the impact of conflict, climate change and an economic crisis caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, it is estimated that 828 million people globally, or one in every 10 people, faced hunger in 2021, which represented a staggering increase of 150 million people since the outbreak of the pandemic in 2019. At the same time, according to the latest figures in 2022, close to 50 million people are deemed as being on the brink of famine, a number that is 1.8 times higher than that of 2019.
Delays in supply chain give rise to food shortage
While some may question why the issue of hunger has yet to be solved after all these years, the fact is that prior to the COVID-19 pandemic, the number of people facing hunger had been in decline thanks to global efforts. Sadly, this progress was undone by a pandemic. As prevention measures were imposed, farmers, who are at the heart of global food supply, were forced to stay at home and had their income source cut off, leading to a severe hit on the global food supply chain.
Food insecurity is further aggravated by the war in Ukraine, as many countries across the world are dependent on wheat, sunflower oil, fertiliser, fuel and gas supplies from Russia and Ukraine. Wars, sanctions, port closures, destruction of farmlands and infrastructure have caused disruption in production and supplies, which drive up food, energy and transport prices, leading to food shortages and increased costs of living that are hitting the most vulnerable extremely hard.
Children are the first to suffer as food insecurity worsens
Children living in countries that experience food insecurity are particularly prone to malnutrition, and prolonged malnutrition may lead to stunting. Currently, one in every five children under the age of five, or as many as 149 million, suffer from stunting, which indicates the severity of child malnutrition. In fact, malnutrition has a major impact on children’s physical and psychological development, and is one of the main underlying causes of preventable deaths among children under five.
Food insecurity affects the whole world, and no region has been spared. Farmers and pastoralists are especially affected, with the effects of climate change, conflict and socialising limits causing them to starve, to sell their belongings and even marrying off a young daughter in exchange of dowry, or withdrawing a child from school to work as child labour. Falling into the vicious cycle of poverty will permanently impact a child physically, mentally and spiritually. They need all the help they can get from the world.
According to a report by the World Food Programme (WFP) in 2022, multiple vulnerable countries in the world are facing a deterioration of acute food insecurity and need international assistance to turn things around. They include the following five countries in Africa and Asia.
Parents are heartbroken and helpless as they witness their children become feeble due to a lack of food.
In east Africa, Somalia is threatened by conflict and climate change at the same time. For several rainy seasons in a row, the country has been experiencing inadequate rainfall, which, combined with the incessant risks of drought and desert locusts, results in very poor harvests, loss of livestock and displacement of poor population, causing even greater intercommunal conflicts and forming a vicious cycle. Latest report by UN agencies indicated that Somalia suffered its worst drought in 40 years in 2022, which killed an estimated 43,000 people, half of them being children under five years old. It is estimated that 29% of the country’s population, or nearly 5 million people, now face severe levels of acute food insecurity, and the figure may rise to 6.5 million in April to June 2023, with some areas facing high risk of famine. Besides, over 1.8 million children under the age of five in Somalia are now facing acute malnutrition, with nearly 500,000 of them severely malnourished and in real threat of losing their lives.
With food in extremely short supply because of the severe drought, children are relying on wild fruits to get satiated.
As the fifth largest refugee-hosting country in Africa, Kenya is also facing the challenge of consecutive poor rainy seasons. Families that depend on agriculture and livestock business are gravely affected by the widespread drought conditions. Exacerbated by the ongoing consequences of COVID-19 containment measures, 4.4 million people, around 30% of the country’s population, are projected to face severe levels of acute food insecurity. This represents a 43% increase compared to the same time last year.
When this child was yet to be a year old, she had already suffered three relapses of malnutrition.
South Sudan, another country in east Africa, has experienced record-breaking floods in three consecutive years, causing crops to fail, livestock to die in mass and food prices to soar. According to estimates, as a result of scarcity of food and persistent regional conflict, over half of the nation’s population, or over 6.6 million people, are facing a severe food crisis. 66,000 of them are experiencing famine-like conditions (Phase 5) on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale.
Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC)
While conflict in the eastern part of the country continues, tens of thousands of people have become displaced and lost their livelihoods, forcing them to live on food distributed by World Vision and other humanitarian agencies.
As DRC, a country in central Africa, experiences years of instability, a quarter of its population, or over 26 million people, now face severe levels of acute food insecurity, with 3.8 million of them facing what is classified as “emergency” on the IPC scale. As conflict in the eastern provinces continues, international trade and other livelihood activities have been hampered, while the whole country’s economy suffers the negative impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. This all but means that the hunger situation has been made even more challenging.
Northwestern Afghanistan has been experiencing drought for several years in a row. Many children are severely affected and have become malnourished due to prolonged starvation.
Even though active conflict has reduced since the transition of power in August 2021, 97% of Afghanistan’s population is projected to fall below the poverty line due to the economic crisis. This, combined with the drought caused by La Niña, is leading to an unprecedented food crisis. Currently, about 45% of Afghanistan’s population, or almost 19 million people, are experiencing severe food insecurity, with 5.9 million caught in “emergency” level of acute food insecurity, or Phase 4 on the IPC scale. If timely and sufficient assistance is not made available, it is feared that many will experience famine or even death.
You can help make a difference
The situation may look bleak, but we can work together to turn the tide. With decades of experience in relief responses, and long-term partnerships with the WFP and other local organisations, World Vision is capable of efficiently bringing food to the hands of those in need. But we need your participation.
By pooling the donations raised worldwide, World Vision was able to partner with WFP to reach 10.96 million people with food and cash assistance last year. We also provided supplementary feeding for over 684,000 children under five and 173,000 pregnant and lactating women. Moreover, over 90,000 children with wasting received treatment and 89% of them made a full recovery. This year, we will continue to do the following:
- Distribute emergency food and cash assistance* to affected families
- Provide livelihood assistance to help families recover
- Provide treatment and therapeutic food for malnourished children and offer primary healthcare support for communities
- Provide clean water for communities to maintain good hygiene and prevent diseases
- Protect children and women and provide psychosocial support
* World Vision partners with WFP to distribute food aid and cash assistance in DRC, South Sudan and Somalia.
In some hard-to-reach communities, World Vision conducts air drops to deliver food to those in need.
World Vision delivers clean water to communities affected by drought.
World Vision supports clinics in providing treatment for malnourished children.
World Vision is focusing its humanitarian efforts on 26 countries that have some of the highest needs around the world. These countries span across Africa, the Americas, the Middle East and Asia, including Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, DRC, Afghanistan, Syria, Lebanon, Haiti, Venezuela, Myanmar and Sri Lanka.