Published today (4 May). The 2022 Global Report on Food Crises reveals that 193 million people were experiencing food insecurity at a ‘crisis’ level or worse in 2021 – up from 154 million in 2020. It calls the year-on-year increase in the number of people affected “unabated”.
Those in this category can lose their livelihoods, starve and die. They affect 53 countries and territories, with Africa and the Middle East being the most affected. Among the 35 countries and regions classed as currently undergoing ‘major’ food crises are Ethiopia, Madagascar, Yemen, Afghanistan, Cameroon, Chad, Haiti, Kenya, Madagascar, Malawi, Namibia, Pakistan, Palestine and Zimbabwe.
According to the report, conflict is the main cause of food insecurity. 99 million people were classed as experiencing food insecurity at a ‘crisis’ level or worse in 2020, due to conflict, and that number had risen to 139 million by the end of 2021. With Russia’s war in Ukraine showing no sign of stopping, this figure is likely to rise significantly again in 2022. Ukraine and Russia collectively account for more than one-quarter of the world’s wheat exports and more than 80% of global sunflower oil exports.
According to the report, economic shocks are the second leading cause of food insecurity. 40 million people were affected in 2020 by economic shocks, while the number of people who are experiencing food insecurity in 2021 fell to 30 million.
The report names climate extremes as the third largest driver of food insecurity. Extreme-weather-related cases of food insecurity rose to 23 million people in 2021 from 15.7 million people in 2020. The summer of 2021 Global extreme weather events were unprecedented. During the season, temperatures reached record levels in every region of the Northern Hemisphere.
The report emphasises that all three main drivers “feed into one another”, “with poverty and social inequality as the underlying causes”. The Global Network Against Food Crises (UN, EU, and a variety of governmental agencies, NGOs, around the globe) has provided the report.
A joint statement to mark the release of the report reads: “The situation calls out for at-scale action to move towards integrated approaches to prevention, anticipation, and better targeting to sustainably address the root causes of food crises, including structural rural poverty, marginalization, population growth and fragile food systems.”
The UN released its second Global Land Outlook last month.The Outlook also gave some alarming warnings about food security. The Outlook showed that 70% of all land has been altered by humans, with 40% of global land now classified as degraded. The Global South is more affected than the Global North.
Unless action is taken to protect and restore land at scale, the report warns, half of global GDP – $44trn – will be at risk by 2050.
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