The UN’s World Food Program (WFP) is the world’s leading humanitarian organization fighting hunger, providing food aid in emergencies and working with communities to improve nutrition and build resilience and a Nobel Prize winner of Peace 2020, estimates that up to 811 million people go to bed hungry every night.
The number of people facing acute food insecurity globally has more than doubled – from 135 million to 276 million – since 2019. A total of 48.9 million people face emergency levels of hunger in a forty countries. This seismic hunger crisis was caused by a fatal combination of factors. Climate change, Dame Covid and many geopolitical conflicts were already causing a food crisis on the planet before the conflict in Ukraine worsened an already disastrous situation.
Conflicts around the world are still the main driver of hunger, with 60% of the world’s hungry people living in areas affected by war and violence. From the dry corridor of Central America and Haiti, through the Sahel, the Central African Republic, South Sudan, then eastwards to the Horn of Africa, Syria, Yemen and on to in Afghanistan, there is a ring of fire stretching around the world where conflict and climatic shocks are pushing millions of people to the brink of starvation.
Climate shocks are destroying lives, crops and livelihoods, undermining people’s ability to feed themselves and displaced 30 million people from their homes around the world in 2020. The economic consequences of Dame Covid are pushing hunger to unprecedented levels. Last but not least, the cost of reaching people in need is rising: the price WFP pays for food has increased by 30% compared to 2019, or an additional $42 million per month.
The WFP estimates an 18 to 30% increase in international wheat and maize prices depending on the duration of the conflict. As a result, countries like Syria – where food prices have doubled over the past year – are heavily dependent on food imports and are suffering the most. Almost half of African countries import more than a third of their wheat from Russia and Ukraine. Thus, rising and fluctuating food prices have hit vulnerable countries like a sledgehammer. But hunger is a problem that can be solved. It depends on the ability to lift people out of poverty – especially those who produce, harvest and process our food.
In times of crisis, WFP strives to get food and cash to the most vulnerable as soon as possible, but it can’t stop there. Proponents of large-scale, intensive industrial agriculture advocate increased global production as a solution to the current food crisis. But in reality, the world’s farmers produce more than enough food to feed the world’s population, especially since in recent years the world has seen record grain harvests. Food is not lacking, there is only a lack of equality in sharing. Even with Ukraine’s lost exports, there is enough food for everyone according to the WFP.
The solution, he says, is to support both emergency measures to save lives and to overhaul the systems that produce and distribute our food, in order to escape this terrible cycle. WFP’s appeal to the Nations would prevent starvation, child malnutrition, the exodus of families to find food and all other horrible, avoidable and predictable consequences of mass hunger. Funds raised can also be used to provide farmers with much-needed supplies such as seeds, tools and fertilizers so they can recover and replant.
A detailed study by the FAO indicates that there are more than 608 million farms in the world, of which more than 90% are family farms (depending on the definition), and that they occupy approximately 70-80% of the land agriculture and produce around 80% of the world’s food by value. Five out of six farms in the world are less than two hectares, use only about 12% of all agricultural land and produce about 35% of the world’s food, according to a study published in World Development.