Global Report on Food Crises: Acute food insecurity soars to five-year high

Global Report on Food Crises: Acute food insecurity soars to five-year high

The number of people facing acute food insecurity and needing urgent life and livelihood-saving assistance has hit a five-year high in 2020 in countries beset by food crises.

Conflict, economic shocks – including due to COVID-19, extreme weather – pushed at least 155 million people into acute food insecurity in 2020, said an annual report launched by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) -an international alliance of the UN, the EU, governmental and non-governmental agencies working to tackle food crises together.

The stark warning from the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises revealed that conflict, or economic shocks that are often related to COVID-19 along with extreme weather, are continuing to push millions of people into acute food insecurity.

At least 155 million people experienced acute food insecurity at Crisis or worse levels across 55 countries in 2020 - an increase of around 20 million people from the previous year, according to the report.

Of these, around 133 000 people were classified in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity in 2020 - Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5) - in Burkina Faso, South Sudan, and Yemen where urgent action was needed to avert widespread death and a collapse of livelihoods.

At least another 28 million people faced Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4) level of acute food insecurity in 2020 - meaning they were one step away from starvation - across 38 countries/territories where urgent action saved lives and livelihoods, and prevented famine spreading.

Thirty-nine countries have experienced food crises during the five years that the GNAFC has been publishing its annual report; in these countries/territories, the population affected by high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) increased from 94 to 147 million people between 2016 and 2020.

Additionally, in the 55 food-crisis countries covered by the report, over 75 million children under five were stunted (too short) and over 15 million wasted (too thin) in 2020.

Countries in Africa remained disproportionally affected by acute food insecurity. Close to 98 million people facing acute food insecurity in 2020 - or two out of three - were on the African continent. But other parts of the world have also not been spared, with countries including Yemen, Afghanistan, Syria, and Haiti among the ten worst food crises last year.  

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