Blog Post

Acute Hunger Continues to Rise Globally: Global Report on Food Crises Mid-Year Update Released

Alarming levels of hunger and food insecurity are on the rise across the globe. According to the September 2021 mid-year update to the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), an estimated 161 million people in 42 countries/territories have faced Crisis-level (IPC/CH Phase 3) food insecurity or higher. This number is up from the estimated 155 million acutely food-insecure people reported by the GRFC for 2020.

Notably, there has been an increase in the number of people facing catastrophic food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 5): 584,000 across four countries as of mid-year (Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan, and Yemen). This represents a number more than four times higher than Phase 5 food insecurity estimates for the entire year 2020. Additional countries facing significant food crises and risk of famine include the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), Nigeria, and the Sudan. All of these populations require urgent humanitarian assistance to stave off disaster.

Increasing food insecurity and hunger are being driven by several familiar factors: conflict, climate change and extreme weather, and economic shocks. Since 2020, these factors have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic. These root causes have been noted by multiple reports in recent years, including the most recent State of Food Security and Nutrition (SOFI) report.

Conflict has played a principal role in rising hunger levels throughout Africa. Countries impacted by ongoing and intensifying conflict include  the Central African Republic (CAR), the DRC, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Somalia, Cameroon, Chad, Niger, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, and Mali. In Latin America and the Caribbean (LAC), Haiti has also experienced increased conflict and civil unrest following the assassination of its president earlier in the year. In all of these countries, conflict has displaced populations, disrupted agricultural production and trade, reduced livelihoods, and hampered humanitarian aid.

Extreme weather events and natural disasters also continue to contribute to food crises in 2021. In Africa, drought has impacted crop production, income-generating opportunities, and food prices in regions of Madagascar, Angola, Tanzania, Mozambique, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, Uganda, Maurigania, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Burundi, Sierra Leone, and Mali. At the other extreme, flooding destroyed crops and disrupted livelihoods and trade in parts the CAR, the DRC, Zambia, the Sudan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Burundi, Benin, Chad, the Gambia, Ghana, Niger, Nigeria, and Togo. Locust infestations continued to destroy crops and reduce staple food supplies in Angola, Zambia, and Madagascar. Natural disaster also struck in LAC in the form of a massive earthquake in Haiti in August, as well as below-average rainfall in that country.  

A final contributor to rising levels of acute hunger and food insecurity has been poor macroeconomic conditions and economic shocks, driven in part by efforts to stop the spread of the COVID-19 virus. Many countries have seen rising food prices due to lowered supplies and increased import costs. These include Uganda, Somalia, South Sudan, the Sudan, Ethiopic, Ghana, Guinea, Liberia, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, Honduras, Guatemala, Nicaragua, Haiti, and El Salvador. Currency depreciation and reductions in household purchasing power due to lost livelihoods have added to the economic challenges in many of these countries.

The mid-year GRFC update makes clear that, far from waning, food crises are in fact increasing around the world. As in the main report released earlier in the year, these findings emphasize need for urgent, coordinated efforts to address the multi-faceted drivers of food insecurity. This includes strengthening and transforming global, regional, and local food systems to be more inclusive and sustainable, and enhancing populations’ resilience to future shocks like the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Global Report on Food Crises is prepared by 16 leading global and regional organizations belonging to the Global Network Against Food Crises and released annually by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN), led by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Programme (WFP), and IFPRI. The report provides the latest estimates of severe hunger worldwide and at the country level, as well as analysis of the key drivers behind current hunger trends, to help humanitarian aid organizations and development organizations better coordinate to address the root causes of food crises. The data come mainly from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) and the Cadre Harmonisé (CH). The 2021 report monitors food insecurity in 55 countries/territories vulnerable to food crises, and the mid-year report provides updated data for 42 of those countries.