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Global Report on Food Crises reveals scope of food crises as COVID-19 poses new risks to vulnerable countries

Today 21 April 2020 an international alliance of UN, governmental, and nongovernmental agencies working to address the root causes of extreme hunger have released a new edition of their annual Global Report on Food Crises.

The report by the Global Network Against Food Crises, along with key findings, statements by partners, and multimedia products unpacking its contents

Key findings of the Global Report

  • The report indicates that at the close of 2019, 135 million people across 55 countries and territories experienced acute food insecurity* (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above). Additionally, in the 55 food-crisis countries covered by the report, 75 million children were stunted and 17 million suffered from wasting in 2019.
  • This is the highest level of acute food insecurity* and malnutrition documented by the Network since the first edition of the report in 2017.
  • Additionally, in 2019, 183 million people were classified in Stressed (IPC/CH Phase 2) condition -- at the cusp of acute hunger and at risk of slipping into Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) if faced with a shock or stressor, such as the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • More than half (73 million) of the 135 million people covered by the report live in Africa; 43 million live in the Middle East and Asia; 18.5 million live in Latin America and the Caribbean.
  • The key drivers behind the trends analysed in the report were: conflict, (the key factor that pushed 77 million people into acute food insecurity), weather extremes (34 million people) and economic turbulence (24 million).
  • The number of people in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) increased by 22 million between 2018 and 2019, as a result of worsening acute food insecurity conditions in key conflict-driven crises, notably the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, and more severe droughts and economic shocks in Guatemala, Haiti, Pakistan, Zambia and Zimbabwe. Burkina Faso and the Niger in the Sahel, and Cameroon also saw big increases in the number of people in Crisis or worse (CH Phase 3 or above), largely as a result of intensified conflict and greater displacement of people

From the content:

  • Chapter 2  starts with a graphical and textual analysis of the key findings of the GRFC 2020. It provides the main list of 55 countries and territories in food crises, supplying the peak number of acutely food-insecure people in 2019.

Refer to the rest of the chapter for regional overviews of 2019 food crises for which data was available: three regions of Africa; Asia and the Middle East; Latin America and the Caribbean.

  • Chapter 3  covers the 35 most serious food crises in alphabetical order from Afghanistan to Zimbabwe. There is a graphical overview page for each country crisis providing the key relevant food security and nutrition data; a summary of the main drivers in order of their contribution to the country’s food crisis and the displacement figures that are most relevant for the country/territory. 

The rest of each country profile provides a more granular analysis of the acute food insecurity and nutrition situation in 2019 and discusses the drivers in some depth. Each profile is illustrated with maps that give a sense of severity by region and, where possible, graphs that convey changes over time.

  • Chapter 4  provides a table with pre-COVID-19 pandemic estimates of the number of acutely food-insecure people in need of urgent action in 2020. It further provides an analysis of expected trends by country/territory in 2020. It explains the assumptions underlying the acute food insecurity forecasts for 2020.

Regional maps of Africa, Asia and Latin America/Caribbean indicate the projected ranges of the numbers of people in IPC/CH Phase 3 or above as well as primary drivers and risks by country.

p.8-9. Short-term outlook for 2020

  • The acute food insecurity forecasts for 2020 were produced before COVID-19 became a pandemic and do not account for its likely impact in food crisis countries. The combined effects of conflict, macroeconomic crisis, climate related shocks and crop pests, including fall army worm and desert locusts, were likely to ensure that Yemen remained the world's worst food crisis.
  • In East Africa, abundant seasonal rains benefitted crops and rangelands, but fostered a severe desert locust outbreak that will likely aggravate acute food insecurity in complex and fragile contexts.
  • Protracted conflicts will either maintain or increase acute food insecurity levels in parts of Central Africa.
  • In Southern Africa, post-harvest improvements are likely to be short-lived as poor rains, high food prices and unresolved political and economic instability could worsen acute food insecurity levels. Increasing violence, displacements and disrupted agriculture and trade in tandem with adverse climate in West Africa and Sahel countries will worsen acute food insecurity conditions in many areas.
  • Violent conflict and currency depreciation will drive alarming rates of acute food insecurity and acute malnutrition levels across the most troubled areas of the Middle East and Asia. In Latin America and the Caribbean, sociopolitical crises, weather extremes, lack of employment and high food prices are likely to lead to deteriorating acute food insecurity in some countries.
  • The drivers of food crises, as well as lack of access to dietary energy and diversity, safe water, sanitation and health care will continue to create high levels of child malnutrition, while COVID-19 is likely to overburden health systems. The pandemic may well devastate livelihoods and food security, especially in fragile contexts and particularly for the most vulnerable people working in the informal agricultural and nonagricultural sectors. A global recession will majorly disrupt food supply chains. 

p.10. Mobilizing for the impact of COVID-19 in food-crisis countries

  • Given the unprecedented nature of the crisis, creating a better understanding of the potential impacts of COVID-19 and taking rapid collective action to pre-empt its impact on food security and food systems are of paramount importance and urgency. Anticipatory actions must be undertaken now to safeguard the livelihoods of the most vulnerable people and related agrifood systems to protect the critical food supply chain. Such interventions must comply with government measures and health guidelines and should be designed and implemented in partnership and close coordination between governments, humanitarian and development actors.


  • The increased intensity and frequency of climatic shocks – such as recurring droughts in the Central Sahel – are further degrading natural assets (e.g. cropland, water resources, pastures) and generating increased competition over those resources, thereby increasing the risk of intercommunal violence, for example between pastoralist groups and farmers.
  • The Central Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin are also characterized by a lack of presence of State systems, including limited access to basic services, the absence of security forces and administrative authorities, and limited border control. These limitations are particularly applicable to pastoralist communities, who are under-represented in local public institutions (FAO, forthcoming). The combination of these factors makes pastoral communities particularly vulnerable. On the one hand, this is due to the mobile nature of their livelihoods, which constrains access to basic services; on the other, the degradation of natural resources not only disrupts their normal transhumance routes, but it also impoverishes their livelihoods. 

   hunger malnutrition food crisis report 2020 








See also the full text report with country and regional profiles, infographics, data and statistics, you can find here

   About the Global Network

   The Global Network against Food Crises seeks to better link, integrate and guide existing initiatives,   partnerships, programmes and policy processes to sustainably address the root causes of food crises


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