Global Food Insecurity Hits All-Time High: 2022 Global Report on Food Crises Released
- Food Crisis and Related Risk Factors
- Global Report on Food Crises
- Acute Food Insecurity
- Climate Change
- COVID-19 Economic Impacts
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In many places around the world, hunger is worse than ever before.
That’s the message of the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), released this week. The report paints a grim picture of global food security. Almost 193 million people across 53 countries/territories were acutely food insecure in 2021, up nearly 40 million people from 2020. This number represents a new record and is only expected to worsen throughout 2022.
In recent years, global food crises have been driven by a combination of conflict, climate change, and economic shocks. These factors have slowed agricultural production, hampered trade, reduced incomes, driven up food prices, and negatively impacted food availability and accessibility, especially in low-income countries. In 2020 and 2021, these conditions have been further exacerbated by the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine.
Almost 40 million people across 36 countries faced IPC Phase 4 (Emergency) food insecurity or worse in 2021, with more than half a million people facing Phase 5 (Catastrophe) level hunger. The worst food insecurity was seen in Ethiopia, South Sudan, southern Madagascar, and Yemen; several areas in South Sudan fell into potential famine conditions at the start of 2021.
In addition, over 230 million people across 41 countries/territories faced IPC Phase 2 (Stressed) food insecurity in 2021. These populations relied on food assistance and livelihood support programs to stabilize their food security and prevent them from falling further into hunger and poverty.
As in previous years, conflict was a major driver of food insecurity around the world. An estimated 139 million people across 24 countries/territories experienced IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) food insecurity or higher as a result of conflict and insecurity. The report notes that this represents a significant increase in the number of people experiencing hunger as a result of conflict (99 million people in 23 countries/territories in 2020). Ethiopia, South Sudan, and Yemen all experienced conflict-driven food insecurity in 2021.
Around 23.5 million people in eight African countries experienced acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or higher) as a result of climate change-driven extreme weather events. This included over 10,000 people in Phase 5 (Catastrophe) food insecurity in southern Madagascar as a result of severe drought in the second half of the year. As with conflict, the impact of extreme weather on food insecurity has increased since 2020, when 15.7 million people across 15 countries experienced acute food insecurity due to climate change-driven shocks.
Global food prices have risen to record highs in 2021, with the economic impacts of COVID-19, global and local supply chain disruptions, and skyrocketing fuel and fertilizer prices all playing a role. In 21 countries, economic shocks drove 30.2 million people into acute food insecurity. The impacts of these shocks have been particularly detrimental in low-income, import-dependent countries and for poor households.
Given the ongoing conflicts, macroeconomic challenges, rising food and fuel prices, and extreme weather events around the globe, the report’s authors do not expect the world’s food security situation to improve in the near future. In fact, in 41 of the report’s 53 covered countries/territories, between 179 million and 181 million are expected to experience IPC Phase 3 or above (Crisis or worse) food insecurity in 2022. More than 300,000 people in three countries (Yemen, South Sudan, and Somalia) could experience Phase 5 (Catastrophe) food insecurity. Conflict is expected to drive increased food insecurity in Nigeria, Yemen, Burkina Faso, and the Niger in 2022, while extreme weather (specifically below-average rainfall) could result in increased food insecurity and hunger in Kenya, South Sudan, and Somalia. The report estimates that as many as 5 million people in Ukraine will face acute food insecurity and need significant humanitarian assistance.
As dire as the global food security outlook is, however, the report presents some cause for cautious optimism – if the world acts quickly. In the report’s Foreword, UN Secretary-General António Guterres states that the world has “the data and know-how to change course.” The report calls for immediate, significant, and sustained action to establish sustainable food systems, enhance resilience and protect livelihoods, and support and strengthen agricultural production and open agricultural trade. These actions include providing support to farmers to improve their access to markets, financing, agricultural inputs, and improved agricultural practices; helping rural communities access off-farm labor to diversity their incomes and enhance their resilience to shocks; increasing international investments and encouraging the necessary political will to prevent and respond to food crises and to de-escalate conflicts before they impact local and global food systems.
The GRFC 2022 was produced under the direction of the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) and with contributions from 17 international humanitarian and development agencies. The report focuses on food crises severe enough to exceed local resources and capacities and require international assistance. In the six years since the GRFC was launched, acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above) across 39 countries has almost doubled; the 2022 report attributes this massive rise to increased availability of acute food insecurity data, broader geographical coverage, expanded population analyzed, and deteriorating food security in a number of countries.