The world’s food challenges are becoming increasi ngly severe, the result of a confluence of crises caused by climate disruption, conflict and economic pressures. It is known that during the first months of 2022, the number of hungry people in the world grew from 282 million to 345 million.
Conflict drives the most vulnerable into starvation of considerable proportions, and the war in Ukraine disrupted global trade, increased transport costs and delivery times, and left farmers without access to the inputs they need.
But those affected by hunger are also a product of the frequency and intensity of climatic disturbances. They do not have enough time to recover between disasters. Thus, the unprecedented drought in the Horn of Africa is pushing more and more people into alarming levels of food insecurity, and famine is predicted in Somalia.
On the other hand, governments’ capacity to respond is limited by each country’s own economic problems – currency depreciation, inflation, debt problems – while the threat of global recession is growing.
“We are facing an unprecedented global food crisis and all indications are that we have not yet seen the worst, with hunger figures repeatedly reaching new peaks over the past three years,” said World Food Programme (WFP) executive director David Beasley.
And in his view, things can and will get worse unless there is a large-scale coordinated effort to address the root causes of this crisis. “We cannot afford another year of record hunger,” he said.
That is why WFP’s 2022 operational plan is the most ambitious in its history and expanded its food assistance targets to reach a record 153 million people (by mid-year it had already assisted 111.2 million individuals).
It also works to stabilise and, where possible, build resilient national food systems and supply chains.
Among its actions, it increased assistance in Sri Lanka sixfold in response to the economic crisis, scaled up operations to record levels in Somalia in response to the threat of famine, and provided food assistance to two out of five Afghans. Faced with rising costs of humanitarian assistance and increasing delivery times, WFP is diversifying its supplier network to favour local and regional procurement. For example, so far in 2022, 47% of the food came from the countries in which it operates, with a total value of US$1.2 billion.
The United Nations agency also expanded the delivery of cash transfers, which currently account for 35 per cent of emergency food assistance.
However, these efforts to assist some of the severely vulnerable are taking place in the midst of a difficult global context in which the number of those suffering from extreme hunger is increasing, calling for concerted global action for peace, economic stability and humanitarian support. PL
(Translated by Cristina Popa – Email: firstname.lastname@example.org) – Photos: Pixabay