Despite international efforts to address food insecurity, around 108 million people in the world were severely food insecure in 2016.
This shows a dramatic increase compared with the 80 million in 2015, the Global Report on Food Crises 2017, has said.
The report, whose compilation required integrating several measurement methodologies, represents a new and politically innovative collaboration between the European Union, USAID’s Fews.Net, regional food security institutions and UN agencies including the Food and Agriculture Organisation, the World Food Programme and UNICEF.
According to the report, which was made available to the Ghana News Agency by the FAO, the dramatic increase reflects the trouble people had in producing and accessing food due to conflict, record-high food prices in local markets in affected countries and extreme weather conditions such drought and erratic rainfall caused by El Niño.
“Civil conflict is the driving factor in nine of the 10 worst humanitarian crises, underscoring the strong linkage between peace and food security,” it said.
It said by joining forces to deliver neutral analytical insights drawn from multiple institutions, the report – to be issued annually – enables better-informed planning decisions to respond to food crises in a more timely, global and coordinated manner.
“This report highlights the critical need for prompt and targeted action to effectively respond to the food crises and to address their root causes,” Neven Mimica, the EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said.
“The EU has taken leadership in this response. In 2016, we allocated €550 million, followed by another €165 million that we have just mobilised to assist the people affected by famine and drought in the Horn of Africa,” he said.
“The report is the outcome of a joint effort and a concrete follow-up to the commitments the EU made at the World Humanitarian Summit in Istanbul, which identified the urgent need for transparent, independent but consensus-based analysis of crises,” Christos Stylianides, the EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, said.
“I hope this document will be a strong tool for the whole international community to improve the coordination of our responses to crises,” he said.
The report said this year, the demand for humanitarian and resilience building assistance would further escalate as four countries were at risk of famine: South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Northeast Nigeria.
It mentioned that other countries that require massive levels of assistance because of widespread food insecurity were Iraq, Syria (including refugees in neighbouring countries) Malawi and Zimbabwe.
“The cost in human and resource terms only increases if we let situations deteriorate,” FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, said.
“We can prevent people dying from famine but if we do not scale up our efforts to save, protect and invest in rural livelihoods, tens of millions will remain severely food insecure,” he said.
“The numbers tell a deeply worrying story with more than 100 million people severely food-insecure, a level of suffering which is driven by conflict and climate change. Hunger exacerbates crisis, creating ever greater instability and insecurity. What is a food security challenge today becomes tomorrow’s security challenge,” said Ertharin Cousin, the Executive Director of WFP.
“It is a race against time – the world must act now to save the lives and livelihoods of the millions at the brink of starvation,” she said.
The report said the 108 million people reported to be facing severe food insecurity in 2016 represented those suffering from higher-than-usual acute malnutrition and a broad lack of minimally adequate food even with external assistance.