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According to reports by international agencies, a global food supply crisis is here, and the situation will get worse. The World Food Programme (WFP) — the food-assistance branch of the United Nations — has release an alarming report on the issue. According to the report, “As many as 828 million people go to bed hungry every night, the number of those facing acute food insecurity has soared – from 135 million to 345 million – since 2019. A total of 50 million people in 45 countries are teetering on the edge of famine.” The WFP’s report lists four major causes of the “seismic hunger crisis.”
The report states: “Conflict is still the biggest driver of hunger, with 60 percent of the world’s hungry living in areas afflicted by war and violence. Events unfolding in Ukraine are further proof of how conflict feeds hunger, forcing people out of their homes and wiping out their sources of income. Climate shocks destroy lives, crops and livelihoods, and undermine people’s ability to feed themselves.The economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic are driving hunger to unprecedented levels. Costs are also at an all-time high: WFP’s monthly operating costs are US$73.6 million above their 2019 average – a staggering 44 percent rise. The extra now spent on operating costs would have previously fed 4 million people for one month.”
A July 24 report in the Financial Times supported the WFP’s overall assessment. The report states that, “The Ukraine conflict came at a time when food prices were already being pushed upwards by a range of factors — mainly droughts affecting key crop-producing countries and supply chains dealing with the residual effects of the pandemic. In poorer countries whose economies have been left in tatters by Covid-19 lockdowns, the war only exacerbated a grim situation.”
Analysts say that the effects of the situation will we widespread and far reaching. For example, Plan International (PI) — a global independent development and humanitarian organisation that advances children’s rights and equality for girls has released a statement saying, “As a result of school closures alone, 239 million children globally are currently missing out on meals.” The statement adds, “Food crises can have devastating consequences for girls’ education. Already less likely to attend school than boys, when families are hungry, girls are increasingly called upon to care for younger siblings so parents can work or seek food. All too often, they are forced to miss or drop out of school, damaging their future prospects and placing them at greater risk of gender-based violence.”
PI’s statement concluded with how the crisis should be addressed: “We can’t afford to wait until more countries reach emergency levels of food insecurity. Children are already dying from hunger. The time to act is now – there shouldn’t be any further delay.
“Governments, donors and humanitarian actors must urgently contribute towards the US$21.5 billion needed to support almost 49 million people on the brink of famine and promote the resilience of 137 million people. Failure to do so will likely result in widespread starvation as well as a complete collapse of agricultural livelihood strategies and assets. Governments and donors must supply funding for food, nutrition, protection, education and livelihood support. This includes school feeding programmes, which should be adapted to carry on while schools are closed to reach the most vulnerable children and girls. Food distributions and cash transfers must be scaled up to reach those in dire need. Protection mechanisms must be put in place to prevent and respond to surging protection issues, and communities must be supported to grow nutritious foods in order to prevent dietary nutrition deficits that impact children under 5 and adolescent girls the most.”