June 13th, 2024

Food Insecurity numbers soar amidst conflicts and climate challenges

UN report reveals nearly 300 million people faced severe food insecurity in 2023, with numbers expected to rise.

The primary cause of food insecurity in 2023 was conflict, affecting 135 million people across 20 countries, with significant impacts noted in regions like Sudan.  (Stock photo: Quang Nguyen Vinh via Pexels).
The primary cause of food insecurity in 2023 was conflict, affecting 135 million people across 20 countries, with significant impacts noted in regions like Sudan. (Stock photo: Quang Nguyen Vinh via Pexels).

The 2024 Global Report on Food Crises issued a dire warning as nearly 300 million people faced significant food shortages in 2023, with expectations for the crisis to deepen further due to escalating conflicts and severe climate impacts.

Published by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) and the Global Network Against Food Crises, the report detailed that the incidence of individuals on the brink of famine nearly doubled from the previous year, affecting over 700,000 people. This severe escalation in food crises is attributed to ongoing global conflicts, adverse weather conditions, and persistent economic disruptions.

In his foreword, António Guterres, the Secretary-General of the United Nations, stressed the critical need for global and national efforts to combat this growing threat. “This crisis demands an urgent response,” he declared, emphasising the need for enhanced support for sustainable development and humanitarian interventions to alleviate widespread hunger and instability.

Conflict and Climate: Main Drivers of the Crisis

The primary cause of food insecurity in 2023 was conflict, affecting 135 million people across 20 countries, with significant impacts noted in regions like Sudan, which now hosts the world’s largest internal displacement crisis. This has drastically worsened hunger and nutritional deficiencies among vulnerable groups, especially women and children.

Weather extremes, exacerbated by the hottest year on record, severely impacted over 72 million people. Many nations are struggling to recover from the destructive effects of prolonged droughts and catastrophic floods, which have decimated crops and livestock.

Economic Strains and Reduced Humanitarian Aid

Economic instability further complicates the global food security landscape. The report highlights the inability of high public debt levels and limited fiscal resources in many nations to shield their populations from volatile food prices and market dependencies. Additionally, a decline in humanitarian funding has critically reduced food assistance availability, further endangering millions.

Projections for 2024: An Increasingly Bleak Outlook

The projections for 2024 are grim, with ongoing conflicts in places like the Gaza Strip, Sudan, and Haiti expected to continue driving food insecurity. Adverse effects from climate phenomena, particularly El Niño, are likely to disrupt agricultural activities further, impacting food availability and prices globally.

Call for Immediate and Coordinated Action

The report urgently calls for global cooperation to tackle the immediate and underlying factors of food insecurity. It advocates for a substantial increase in development aid and direct humanitarian efforts to prevent the crisis from escalating and to ensure a stable and secure food environment for all.