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Countries Facing Worsening Hunger and Food Insecurity

Several countries around the world are experiencing or are expected to experience high levels of severe food insecurity in the coming months, according to new data from the International Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).

Increasing food insecurity will be particularly significant in Africa south of the Sahara. In Sudan from June to September, around 9.6 million people are in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) or above food insecurity. This is the highest figure ever recorded since IPC began tracking food insecurity in the country and represents an increase of 65 percent from the same period in 2019. An additional 15.9 million Sudanese are experiencing IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) food insecurity and could face more severe hunger in the event of further income or other shocks. COVID-19 lockdown measures, conflict and subsequent internal displacement, and economic decline and high inflation have all reduced incomes and labor opportunities, purchasing power, and access to food in the country.

South Sudan has also experienced increasing IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) or higher food insecurity since June. The lean season in South Sudan began early, and seasonal food insecurity has been worsened by conflict, crop and livestock losses due to flooding, economic decline, and COVID-19 lockdown measures.

In Lesotho, food security is anticipated to deteriorate starting in September, with much of the population shifting from IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) to Phase 3 (Crisis) levels as they deplete their household food stocks. Malawi is also expected to experience Phase 3 (Crisis) food insecurity as the country enters the lean season, and millions of people in South Africa are facing increased risk of hunger and poor nutrition due to COVID-19 response measures. In the Democratic Republic of the Congo, urban populations re facing reduced purchasing power, with 88 percent of respondents in the capital city of Kinshasa reporting that they did not have enough money to buy food during a two-week period in June. Around 63 percent of Sierra Leone’s population is currently food insecure, up from 48 percent in January.

Latin America and the Caribbean is also facing rising hunger levels due to the COVID-19 pandemic. According to the World Food Program, around 4.7 million people in the region experienced severe hunger prior to the outbreak of the pandemic; this number has risen to around 16 million.

In seven East Asian countries (Indonesia, Myanmar, Philippines, Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, and PNG), over 100 million people had insufficient food consumption levels at the end of July. While this number is down slightly from 112 million reported in June, it remains staggeringly high. The number of people living on less than $3.20 per day could rise by as many as 30 million due to the pandemic.