Blog Post

Global Report on Food Crises Midyear Update: SSA Continues to Grapple with High Levels of Acute Food Insecurity

While some countries in Africa South of the Sahara have seen improvements in food security in 2023, the region as a whole continues to be plagued by food crises, according to the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) 2023 Midyear Update. East Africa has been the hardest hit, with nearly 65 million people in the region having experienced high levels of acute food insecurity in the first half of 2023, up 8 million from 2022.

Sudan, Somalia, and Burundi all experienced worsening overall food insecurity in the first half of 2023. In Sudan, 8.6 million more people faced acute food insecurity, while Somalia and Burundi that number was around 1 million in each country.

Four countries—Burkina Faso, Mali, Somalia, and South Sudan—have populations in IPC Phase 5 (Catastrophe) food insecurity; this is down from seven countries in 2022, due to a combination of improved weather conditions in some areas and increased humanitarian aid. South Sudan and Somalia both saw declines in the prevalence of IPC Phase 5 food insecurity in 2023; however, Burkina Faso experienced its highest level of Phase 5 in reporting history, while Mali experienced Phase 5 food insecurity for the first time.

In East Africa, the ongoing conflict in Sudan has continued to drive regional food crisis in the first half of 2023 by disrupting markets and trade, displacing large populations, and reducing livelihoods and access to critical agricultural and health services. This shock has combined with the impacts of the historic five-year drought in the Horn of Africa, other extreme weather events, widespread economic downturn, and conflicts in Ethiopia, Somalia, and South Sudan. As many as 65.2 million people, or 23 percent of the analyzed population, in eight countries in the region faced IPC Phase 3 food insecurity or higher in 2023. This is the largest number of people facing acute food insecurity in the region since the GRFC was launched eight years ago. The number of people in IPC Phase 3 or higher also increased by 15 percent between 2022 and 2023 (in contrast, the population analyzed in the region grew by 6 percent).

In Southern and Central Africa, improved food availability and access following 2023 harvests in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Lesotho, and Namibia have led to some regional improvements in food security. Despite these improvements, however, nineteen percent of the analyzed population (46.7 million people) across 12 countries remained in IPC Phase 3 or above food insecurity in the first half of 2023. Angola, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Eswatini, Madagascar, Malawi, Mozambique, the United Republic of Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe all still meet the criteria for major food crisis, with at least 20 percent of their populations in IPC Phase 3 or above. Conflict has been the main driver of ongoing food crises in the Central African, Republic, the Democratic Republic of the

Congo, and northern Mozambique, while economic shocks have exacerbated food insecurity in these countries and have themselves driven acute food insecurity in Eswatini, Lesotho, Malawi, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Extreme weather events, including flooding and rainfall deficits, have driven food crises in Angola, Madagascar, and the United Republic of Tanzania and contributed to crises in Malawi, Mozambique, and Zambia.

West Africa and the Sahel region experienced the highest numbers of acutely food-insecure people in the history of the Global Report on Food Crises in the first half of 2023. Eleven percent, or just over 44 million people, faced Phase 5 (Catastrophe) food insecurity across 15 countries. These increased numbers are driven in part by expanded analysis coverage in the midyear report. Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Chad, Guinea, Mali, Mauritania, the Niger, Sierra Leone and Togo all saw Phase 3 or above food insecurity decline as a result of improved agricultural production; despite this improvement, nine countries in the region still meet the criteria of major food crises (Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Chad, Ghana, Mali, the Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Sierra Leone). In addition, the report points out that the July coup d’etat in Niger could have longer-term impacts on food security in the country that could trickle into other areas of the region. Conflict was the main driver of food crisis in the region in the first half of 2023, with extreme weather events and economic shocks exacerbating the situation.