Blog Post

Ethiopia and Madagascar are world's newest food security hotspots, says new report from FAO and WFP

Food security is expected to further deteriorate in 23 countries already facing food crises, according to a new report from FAO and WFP. These worsening conditions come as countries and regions are reeling from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and struggling to address conflict, climate change, and economic downturn.

Ten of the 23 countries listed in the report are located in Africa south of the Sahara. Of those, Ethiopia and Madagascar are the new “highest alert” hotspots in the world. In Ethiopia, 401,000 people are forecast to be in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe)-level food insecurity between July and September, with the Tigray region at high risk of famine. This is the highest number of people facing famine in a single country since the 2011 famine in Somalia. The crisis in Ethiopia has been driven mainly by ongoing conflict in the Tigray region, which has disrupted livelihoods and displaced households.

In Madagascar, food insecurity is being driven by extreme weather. The country is facing the worst drought in 40 years, putting 28,000 people are at risk of famine.

South Sudan, Nigeria, and Yemen were the highest alert hotspots from the previous report and remain in significant crisis. Conflict remains the primary driver of food crises in these countries. In South Sudan, the risk of famine has continued since late 2020. Ongoing conflict is expected to exacerbate the current lean season in the country, particularly without immediate and sustained humanitarian aid. South Sudan is also expected to receive above-average rainfall into September, which could result in major flooding, crop damage, and population displacement.

Conflict also continues to drive food crisis in Nigeria, where populations in the northeast regions of the country are being pushed to the brink of famine.

The additional hotspots listed in the report are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Honduras, the Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Chad, Colombia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Kenya and Nicaragua.

Overall, acute food insecurity is on the rise around the world due to conflict, climate change, and the economic impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. The findings of this edition support the trend seen over the past year. Twenty million more people experienced acute food insecurity in 2020 compared to 2019, and FAO and WFP forecast even more to fall into this category in 2021.

In addition, more than 41 million people around the world are at risk of life-threatening famine unless they receive immediate and significant humanitarian assistance. Despite this clear and critical need for aid, however, many countries in the report face significant challenges in receiving that aid. These include Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mali, Mozambique, Myanmar, the Niger, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, the Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In these countries, ongoing conflict has often made it dangerous for humanitarian actions to reach populations most in need. A lack of funding at both the national and international level, as well as bureaucratic complications that slow down humanitarian responses, also pose roadblocks in many of the worst-hit countries.

 Hunger Hotspots: FAO-WFP Early Warnings on Acute Food Insecurity, August-November 2021  was released by the Global Network Against Food Crises and is based on the latest IPC and Cadre Harmonisé analyses.