81 Million People in Need of Food Assistance Worldwide
Updated at 1499096189

Global Food Security Alert, June 21, 2017

According to the latest Global Food Security Alert released by FEWS Net, nearly $2.2 billion has been spent on emergency food assistance globally since January; despite this spending, however, 81 million people remain in need of help. Famine in Somalia, Yemen, Nigeria, and South Sudan could lead to large-scale loss of life, and additional contributions to emergency appeals are urgently needed in these areas.

In early 2017, FEWS NET estimated that 70 million people would require emergency food assistance over the course of the year due to the impacts of conflict and reduced access to food. Since then, several key events have further impacted global food security.

The Horn of Africa experienced a dry rainy season, with rainfall totals less than 30 percent of the average; the worst affected areas (Somalia, Ethiopia, and Kenya) saw rainfall more than 50 percent below average.

Conflict in South Sudan, Yemen, northeast Nigeria, Somalia, Syria, Iraq, Sudan, Central African Republic, Afghanistan, and Democratic Republic of the Congo continues to have a negative impact on livelihoods, market functioning, and humanitarian responses in these countries.

Communicable diseases such as cholera and acute watery diarrhea continue to affect malnutrition and mortality rates in South Sudan, Yemen, Nigeria, Somalia, and Ethiopia.

Due to these developments, among others, FEWS NET has now revised its estimated food assistance needs for 2017 from 70 million to 81 million people. This estimate is 20 percent higher than 2016 food assistance needs. At the country level, the largest numbers of people in need of food assistance during the remainder of 2017 are expected to be in Yemen, Syria, South Sudan, and Ethiopia.

Although these estimates are not uncommonly large, the severity of the food insecurity is extreme in the worst affected countries, which are already experiencing Emergency-level food insecurity. Emergency food insecurity is characterized by FEWs Net by extreme food gaps, high levels of acute malnutrition, and excess mortality, especially among children.

FEWS Net is calling for urgent additional resources to fund critical food, nutrition, WASH, and health responses. So far these efforts have only been 36 percent funded.

The FEWS Net report points out that the primary driver of famine risk is ongoing conflict and related restrictions on humanitarian access.

By: Jenn Campus