Acute food insecurity increased very sharply in the world in 2021, notes the UN

Displaced people wait for a World Food Program (WFP) distribution in Adlale, near Gode, on April 6, 2022 in Ethiopia ( EDUARDO SOTERAS / AFP )

Even before the war in Ukraine, acute food insecurity has hit almost 40 million more people in 2021, to reach almost 200 million, due to conflicts and climatic and economic crises, the UN warns in its report on Wednesday on food crises.

Last year, 193 million people in 53 countries were in a situation of acute food insecurity, ie they needed urgent assistance to survive.

But even with food aid, many suffered from acute malnutrition, unable to meet their minimum nutritional needs.

The classification encompasses levels 3 to 5 of the international food security scale: “crisis”, “emergency” and “disaster”.

Since 2016, when this report was first published by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the World Food Program and the European Union, the number has continued to grow.

The 2021 report does not take into account the war in Ukraine, which promises to aggravate the fragilities of countries highly dependent on Russian and Ukrainian grain or fertilizer exports, such as Somalia.

Projections for 2022, which at this stage only include 42 of the 53 countries concerned, estimate that 179 to 181.1 million people could suffer from acute food insecurity.

“The war has already highlighted the interconnected nature and the fragility of food systems”, underlines the FAO, which warns that “the prospects for the future are not good”.

Food insecurity around the world
Food insecurity in the world (Gal ROMA / AFP)

“If more is not done to support rural areas, the magnitude of the damage linked to hunger and the deterioration of living standards will be dramatic. Urgent humanitarian action on a massive scale is needed”.

The increase recorded in 2021 stems from a “toxic triple combination of conflicts, extreme weather events, and economic shocks”, details the FAO.

Conflicts are the cause for 139 million people, particularly in countries experiencing political and humanitarian crises such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Yemen, the most affected.

The economic difficulties linked to the Covid-19 pandemic, less severe than in 2020, were the main cause of acute hunger for 30.2 million people worldwide.

The UN specifies that its figures are pulled up by the enlargement of its geographical coverage, which includes new States such as the DRC.

1.5 billion dollars in financial aid would be needed to act now, in order to take advantage of the sowing season to increase production in regions at risk, estimates the FAO, which will hold a meeting on this subject on Wednesday.

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