Food crises can be prevented and addressed by better targeting of root causes in Madagascar : WHO

Learn how food crises can be prevented and addressed by targeting root causes in Madagascar. Find out why acute hunger is increasing globally and how countries can address extreme food insecurity. Discover the primary causes of food crises, including conflict, climate catastrophes, economic problems, and inequality. Explore the interconnectedness of global agricultural systems and the repercussions of the Russia-Ukraine conflict. Understand the importance of prioritizing smallholder agriculture and implementing structural improvements for long-term solutions. Take part in large-scale action to prevent and anticipate food crises by addressing structural poverty, marginalization, population growth, and fragile food systems.

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"Acute hunger is at an all-time high, and the global situation is deteriorating," said World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley (WFP).


The Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC), an international alliance of the United Nations (UN), the European Union (EU), and government and non-governmental organizations emphasize the importance of addressing root causes rather than simply responding to emergencies after they occur in their annual report.

Those in greatest need

The study focuses on countries and territories where the scale of the food crisis surpasses local resources and capacities.


It is expected that 193 million people in 53 countries or territories will endure extreme food insecurity at crisis or worse levels in 2021 (IPC/CH Phase 3-5), a 40 million increase from the already record-breaking number of people impacted in 2020.

570,000 people in Ethiopia, southern Madagascar, South Sudan, and Yemen have been classified as being in "catastrophe" phase 5 and require immediate assistance to avoid widespread loss of livelihood, famine, and death.

When comparing the same 39 countries or territories included in earlier versions of the report, the number of people suffering from Phase 3 or higher levels nearly doubled between 2016 and 2021 and has been gradually climbing since 2018.


"This year's Global Report findings emphasize the need of addressing extreme food insecurity at the global level in humanitarian, development, and peace contexts," said QU Dongyu, Director-General of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).

The primary causes

Multiple factors, including conflict, environmental and climate catastrophes, economic and health problems, and poverty and inequality as persistent causes, have all conspired to produce these troubling trends.


Weather extremes have prevented around 23 million individuals from working in eight countries/territories, up from 15.7 million in 15 countries/territories.

Furthermore, the COVID-19 pandemic has disrupted the economies of over 30 million people in 21 countries/territories, a drop from over 40 million people in 17 countries/territories in 2020.

The main source of contention


Despite this, the conflict remains the largest cause of food insecurity, with 139 million people in 24 countries/territories experiencing severe food insecurity in 2020, compared to about 99 million in 23 countries/territories now.

"Conflict, the climate problem, COVID-19, and rising food and fuel prices have created a perfect storm," Mr. Beasley noted.

"Millions of people in dozens of countries are on the verge of hunger," he said, appealing for "urgently needed emergency funds to pull them back from the brink and rectify this global catastrophe before it's too late."


Ukraine's repercussions

Even though the research was carried out before Russia invaded Ukraine, the report claims that the conflict has already highlighted the interconnectedness and fragility of global agricultural systems, with significant consequences for global food and nutrition security.

According to the report, nations that are now experiencing high levels of acute hunger are particularly vulnerable to the dangers posed by the war in Eastern Europe due to their reliance on food and agricultural input imports and their sensitivity to global food price shocks.


"The horrible relationship between conflict and hunger is once again evident and disturbing," Mr. QU said.

While the international community has courageously responded to calls for immediate famine prevention and mitigation action, resource mobilization to address the root causes of food crises, such as the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, global hotspots, and Ukraine's war, has struggled to meet growing needs.

There has been a paradigm shift

The findings of this paper highlight the need of prioritizing smallholder agriculture in humanitarian efforts.

Furthermore, structural improvements to current external financing are recommended to reduce long-term humanitarian aid through longer-term development investments that can help address the root causes of hunger.

Simultaneously, humanitarian help must be delivered in a more efficient and long-term manner.

The founding members of the Global Network stated in a joint statement with USAID and the World Bank, "The situation necessitates large-scale action to shift toward integrated approaches to prevention, anticipation, and better targeting to address the root causes of food crises, such as structural rural poverty, marginalization, population growth, and fragile food systems."

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