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Number of people facing acute food insecurity rose to 258 million in 58 countries in 2022

The number of people experiencing acute food insecurity and requiring urgent food, nutrition and livelihood assistance increased for the fourth consecutive year in 2022, with over a quarter of a billion facing acute hunger and people in seven countries on the brink of starvation, according to the latest Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC).

The report finds that around 258 million people in 58 countries and territories faced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) in 2022, up from 193 million people in 53 countries and territories in 2021. This is the highest number in the seven-year history of the report. However, much of this growth reflects an increase in the population analysed. In 2022, the severity of acute food insecurity increased to 22.7%, from 21.3% in 2021, but remains unacceptably high and underscores a deteriorating trend in global acute food insecurity.

“More than a quarter of a billion people are now facing acute levels of hunger, and some are on the brink of starvation. That’s unconscionable,” UN Secretary-General António Guterres wrote in the report’s foreword. “This seventh edition of the Global Report on Food Crises is a stinging indictment of humanity’s failure to make progress towards Sustainable Development Goal 2 to end hunger and achieve food security and improved nutrition for all.”

According to the report, more than 40% of the population in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above resided in just five countries – Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, parts of Nigeria (21 states and the Federal Capital Territory – FCT), and Yemen.

People in seven countries faced starvation and destitution, or catastrophe levels of acute hunger (IPC/CH Phase 5) at some point during 2022. More than half of those were in Somalia (57%), while such extreme circumstances also occurred in Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Haiti (for the first time in the history of the country), Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen.

Around 35 million people experienced emergency levels of acute hunger (IPC/CH Phase 4) in 39 countries, with more than half of those located in just four countries – Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, the Sudan and Yemen.

Additionally, in 30 of the 42 main food crises contexts analysed in the report, over 35 million children under five years of age suffered from wasting or acute malnutrition, with 9.2 million of them with severe wasting, the most life-threatening form of undernutrition and a major contributor to increased child mortality.

While conflicts and extreme weather events continue to drive acute food insecurity and malnutrition, the economic fallout of the СOVID-19 pandemic and the ripple effects of the war in Ukraine have also become major drivers of hunger, particularly in the world’s poorest countries, mainly due to their high dependency on imports of food and agricultural inputs and vulnerability to global food price shocks.

 

Breakdown of key drivers:

· Economic shocks (including the socioeconomic impacts of COVID-19 and the repercussions of the war in Ukraine) became the main driver in 27 countries with 83.9 million people in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above or equivalent – up from 30.2 million people in 21 countries in 2021. The economic resilience of poor countries has dramatically decreased over the past three years, and they now face extended recovery periods and less ability to cope with future shocks.

· Conflict/insecurity was the most significant driver in 19 countries/territories, where 117 million people were in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above or equivalent. In 2021, conflict was considered the main driver across 24 countries/territories with 139 million people in these phases of acute food insecurity. The lower estimate is explained by the fact that economic shocks surpassed conflict as the main driver of acute food insecurity in three countries still affected by protracted crises – Afghanistan, South Sudan and the Syrian Arab Republic.

· Weather/Climate extremes were the primary driver of acute food insecurity in 12 countries where 56.8 million people were in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above or equivalent, more than double the number of people (23.5 million) in eight countries in 2021. These extremes included sustained drought in the Horn of Africa, devastating flooding in Pakistan, and tropical storms, cyclones and drought in Southern Africa.

 

Looking ahead

Conflicts, national and global economic shocks and weather extremes continue to be increasingly intertwined, feeding into one another and creating spiralling negative effects on acute food insecurity and nutrition. And there is no indication that these drivers will ease in 2023: climate change is expected to drive further weather extremes, the global and national economies face a grim outlook, while conflicts and insecurity are likely to persist.

According to 2023 projections available for 38 of the 58 countries/territories as of March 2023, up to 153 million people (or 18% of the analysed population) will be in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above. In addition, around 310 000 people are projected to be in IPC/CH Phase 5 across six countries – Burkina Faso, Haiti, Mali, parts of Nigeria (26 states and the FCT), Somalia and South Sudan, with almost three quarters of them in Somalia.

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