The Global Report on Food Crises says 124 million people in 51 countries are experiencing high levels of food insecurity, as food crises and acute hunger continue to escalate across the world.
The report said this in its latest edition which was presented at a briefing for UN member nations in Rome
The report indicated that 826 people were facing serious food crises in the world in 2018, adding that the figure was 11 million higher than 815 million people who were adjudged to be chronically hungry in the 2017 report.
The report is produced each year by a group of international humanitarian partners which include the European Union, Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
The report identified conflicts and climate change as the main factors behind the food crises.
“Conflict continued to be the main driver of acute food insecurity in 18 countries, 15 of them in Africa or the Middle East which include Myanmar, north-east Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Yemen.
“It is the primary reason for most of the world’s cases of acute food insecurity, accounting for 60 per cent of the global total or 74 million people.
“Climate disasters, mainly drought, were also major triggers of food crises in 23 countries, two-thirds of them in Africa, and were responsible for pushing some 39 million people into acute food insecurity,’’ it said.
The report said that the prolonged drought conditions also resulted in consecutive poor harvests in countries already facing high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in eastern and southern Africa.
The situation revealed by the Global Report highlighted the urgent need for simultaneous action to save lives, livelihoods and address the root causes of the food crises.
The report said that this had become imperative because of the difficult terrain ahead, as conflict would remain a major driver of food crises in 2018.
It said that the conflict would affect Afghanistan, Central African Republic, DRC, north-eastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen as well as Libya and the central Sahel (Mali and Niger).
“Yemen will mostly likely continue to face the largest food crisis because the situation there is expected to deteriorate, particularly because of restricted access, economic collapse and outbreaks of disease.
“Meanwhile, the impact of severe dry weather on crop and livestock production is likely to heighten food insecurity in pastoral areas of Somalia, south-eastern Ethiopia and eastern Kenya, as well as in West African and Sahel countries, including Senegal, Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso,’’ it said.
António Guterres, UN Secretary-General, said that the report had given all concerned parties vital data and analysis to better understand the food security challenges facing the world.
He said that it was now up the groups to take action to meet the needs of those facing the daily scourge of hunger, while tackling its root causes.
FAO Director-General, José Graziano da Silva, challenged all stakeholders to acknowledge and address the link between hunger and conflict as the best way to achieve zero hunger.
He underscored the need to invest in food security and livelihood projects in conflict situations so as to save lives, strengthen resilience and contribute to peace sustenance efforts.
WFP Executive Director David Beasley said that the consequences of conflict and climate change were stark because millions of more people were severely and desperately hungry.
He said that the report showed the magnitude of today’s crises and indicated that through the political will and modern technology, the world could be peaceful and more stable, while hunger would become a thing of the past.
“The fighting must stop now and the world must come together to avert these crises, often happening right in front of our eyes,’’ he said.
Christos Stylianides, EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management and Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, expressed their commitment to talking the root causes of food crises.
The partners involved in producing the Global Report on Food Crises include the Autorité Intergouvernementale pour le Développement (IGAD), Le Comité Permanent Inter-Etats de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel (CILSS), the European Union, FAO and the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC).
Others are the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI), the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET), the Global Food Security Cluster, the Sistema de la Integración Centroamericana (SICA), UNICEF, the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) and WFP