Hunger report: 155 million at crisis level

6th May 2021 | Eativity editors

The world is witnessing a horrifying hunger crisis not seen in recent memory, with the Food Security Information Network’s newly released Global Report on Food Crises warning that tens of thousands could die without urgent action.

One of the most respected studies on acute hunger, the report stresses that unless urgent and bold humanitarian action is taken by G20 countries – including Australia – tens of thousands of people could die of hunger in the coming months.

These Ugandan children have swollen stomachs from poor nutrition and disease.

In 2020, acute hunger increased globally because of the triple threat of conflict, COVID-19 and climate change. The report found:

• 155 million people experienced crisis levels of hunger or worse (level 3 or above on a scale where 5 is famine), an increase of 20 million from 2019 – the highest in the report’s history.

• Africa was the continent most affected by hunger crises, accounting for 63% of the global total number of people experiencing acute food insecurity.

• Nine out of 10 of the worst food crises were in Africa and the Middle East – conflict hotspots such as DR Congo, Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan and Ethiopia.

• Around 28 million people across more than 30 countries were one step away from famine, again predominantly in conflict-affected countries across Africa and the Middle East.

In six countries, more than 10% of people face famine and starvation.

Forecasts for 2021 paint a grim picture, with the risk of full-blown famine looming in some of the world’s conflict hotspots. Conflict forces people to leave their homes, land and jobs, thereby disrupting trade and agriculture and driving hunger. The economic repercussions of COVID-19, combined with ongoing conflict and displacement, will likely worsen acute hunger unless urgent humanitarian action is taken.

World Vision Australia has called on the Australian government to prioritise an immediate response to the unfolding hunger crisis in several African and Middle Eastern nations.

Last year, World Vision provided nearly 10 million people in 31 countries with food support. It’s not enough.

“We urge the government to urgently adopt a $150 million famine prevention package to support relief,” says World Vision Australia’s senior policy advisor Carsten Bockemuehl.

This should be new money on top of planned 2020-21 aid expenditure and be used to deliver emergency food assistance to people at risk of famine, scale up treatment and prevention of child malnutrition and build long-term community resilience to hunger.

“We urge Australia not to wait until it’s too late to respond to COVID-19-era famines,” Bockemuehl continues. “Now is the time to help prevent significant death and extreme human suffering in parts of Africa and the Middle East.”

You can donate to World Vision Australia at worldvision.com.au