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World food insecurity rises for 4th consecutive year

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J-P Mauro - published on 05/01/24

The annual report from the World Network Against Food Crises recorded the most people living in level 5 food insecurity ever.

A new report from the World Network Against Food Crises found that acute food insecurity rose for the fourth consecutive year in 2023. The data, presented in Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), recorded the rates of food insecurity around the world and attempted to identify the causes, which will help guide the efforts of aid organizations in the coming year. 

The data estimates that there were 282 million people in 59 countries who experienced high levels of acute hunger in 2023. This is an increase of 24 million from 2022 and marks the fourth consecutive year of the exacerbation of the world food crisis. It is said to have exceeded pre-COVID-19 levels by a wide margin. 

Among the most plagued by the hunger crisis are women and children, who are disproportionately affected by malnutrition.

It is estimated that more than 36 million children aged 5 years and younger are acutely malnourished, across 32 countries. The data led United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres to comment: 

“This crisis demands an urgent response. Using the data in this report to transform food systems and address the underlying causes of food insecurity and malnutrition will be vital.”

Gaza, Sudan …

Overall, there was an increase of 1 million people who are facing “Emergency” levels (phase 4 on the 5-level IPC Integrated Food Security Phase Classification System) of food insecurity, within 39 nations.

Meanwhile, an estimated 700,000 people have reached level 5, or “Catastrophe” levels of food insecurity, which puts them at risk of starvation. This was the highest number of people at level 5 ever recorded by the GRFC.

The report projected that 1.1 million more people in Gaza and another 79,000 people in Sudan will reach level 5 by July 2024. 

The report listed several explanations for the significant rise in world food insecurity, including “intensifying conflict and insecurity, the impacts of economic shocks, and the effects of extreme weather events.”

Economic shocks were the most widespread, affecting 21 countries and placing into question where 75 million people will get their food. Many of these countries were found to have a high dependence on imported food, while dealing with a variety of macroeconomic challenges. 

Escalating conflicts were the driving factor of food insecurity in 20 countries, affecting some 135 million people, almost half the global number. Sudan was seen to be the most affected by conflict, with 8.6 million more people facing high levels of acute food insecurity than in 2022. 

Environmental factors drove food insecurity in an additional 18 countries, where 72 million people face high levels of food insecurity. This is a significant change from the 57 million people affected by climate factors, which the report recorded in 2022. 

Read more at the UN’s World Food Program.

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