“For I was hungry and you gave me something to eat, I was thirsty and you gave me something to drink, I was a stranger and you invited me in.” — Matthew 25:35 NIV
45 million people in 43 countries across the globe are at risk of starvation with 584,000 already living in famine-like conditions, and the remaining 41 million at grave risk of falling into famine. Children and their families are victims of the triple threat: Conflict, climate change, and COVID-19 have exacerbated food insecurity globally.
To put it in perspective:
- Almost 6,400 children die every day from nutrition-related causes.
- Nearly 1 in 10 people will go to bed on an empty stomach tonight. That’s up to 811 million globally.
- An additional 83 to 123 million people are chronically hungry due to the pandemic.
The crisis in Ukraine is also creating ripple effects across the global food system. Russia and Ukraine account for 29% of the world's wheat, that’s one third of the global market’s wheat supply. Various regions across Africa and the Middle East are already feeling the effects of supply chain interruptions as the cost of food, fuel, and fertilizer continues to climb. In Somalia, the price of wheat and oil has already risen by 300% and in Kenya, cooking oil has increased by 33%. Long term consequences are expected as rising costs of fertilizer will have a devastating impact on small-scale farmers who are already facing drought and poor rainfall. As costs for food, fuel, and transportation rise, humanitarian organizations will be forced to cut food rations or significantly shrink programming in order to feed those with the greatest need.
The conflict in Ukraine is a clear example of how conflict drives hunger, pushing people from their homes, leaving crops and livestock unattended, and forcing children out of school. Some of the most urgent hunger needs are being forgotten yet will be greatly impacted by this compounding crisis:
A regional snapshot:
- East Africa: More than 500,000 people are facing catastrophic levels of food insecurity in East Africa. Poor rainy seasons and below average rainfall for three consecutive seasons in many areas has resulted in low crop production and loss of livestock. Every country where World Vision works in East Africa is either in conflict or neighboring a country in conflict. This fragility drives displacement and threatens development gains.
- Afghanistan: Half of the children under five in Afghanistan are expected to suffer from acute malnutrition. Conflict has exacerbated a fragile food context as drought has led to crop failure and a 60% loss of livestock. 22.8 million people – half of the population – are projected to be acutely food insecure in 2022.
- Central America: Central America, in addition to the violence and poverty that plague the region, has also been hit hard by natural disasters in recent years, including drought and severe hurricanes. This has destroyed already fragile livelihoods and has tripled food insecurity in El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
Immediate action is needed to stop the needless death of hundreds of thousands of children and avoid negative coping mechanisms as families struggle to survive, such as early marriage and child labor. Unfortunately, the world has already seen the devastating consequences of unmet need. In the 2011 Somalia famine, 258,000 people are estimated to have died with half of those deaths occurring before a famine declaration was made. Without urgent resources, children and their families will face devastating hunger and the world will face the long-term consequences of unrest, fragility, and displacement.
But there is hope.
Over the last 10 years, 89% of the severely malnourished children we treated made a full recovery. We know that famine is preventable and want every child to experience fullness of life.
As a Christian humanitarian organization, World Vision believes in the value of every life. Together with our humanitarian partners, we are asking the Senate to support the recently passed House supplemental package and include $5.8 billion for humanitarian needs - including global hunger - to address these immediate hunger needs before it is too late.