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819. World Hunger Status and Outlook

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819. World Hunger Status and Outlook

According to Hunger Hotspots, a report jointly published by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) of the United Nations, 18 hunger hotspots covering 22 countries are feared to emerge in the period June-November 2023, and people in these areas could face severe food insecurity.

The report identifies the following factors as the main causes of hunger hotspots and calls for an early expansion of assistance to areas affected by these factors.

1.  Conflict and insecurity
2.  Displacement
3.  Dry conditions
4.  Economic shocks
5.  Flood
6.  Political instability/unrest
7.  Tropical cyclone

Dividing the above into three broad categories, there are three types of risks of concern: conflict, economic crisis, and natural disasters.

Conflict risk, including forced displacement of local populations and political instability, disrupt livelihoods, including agricultural and commercial activities, as people are directly attacked, flee potential attacks, or face restrictions on movement and difficulties in accessing government services.

In terms of economic crisis risk, the global economy is expected to continue to slow in 2023 as a result of rising credit costs in the global economy as developed countries and others tighten monetary policy. Many hotspot countries have low foreign exchange reserves and import restrictions, and food price mitigation measures have not been fully effective, keeping domestic food prices high.

Natural disaster risk, such as heavy rains, tropical storms and cyclones, floods, droughts and extreme weather events due to climate change, remain a major concern. There is concern that the high probability of an El Niño event predicted for later this year, discussed in a recent Pick Up, will have a significant impact on several hunger hotspots. 

The report recommends priorities for emergency response and preventive measures to address humanitarian needs in each hotspot country, as well as the implementation of short-term protective measures before new challenges emerge.

The above discussion suggests that hunger and conflict are closely linked. Indeed, hunger hotspots share a common denominator in that they are the result of armed conflict as in the case of Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Mali, Sudan, Syria, etc. An editorial in the July 4 issue of Nature argues that hunger and famine are not accidental, but man-made.

The editorial also referenced the UN Special Report Conflict and the Right to Food, which noted that conflict is now a direct cause of hunger and the biggest obstacle to progress toward achieving the SDGs to eradicate hunger by 2030. Conversely, the SDGs cannot be achieved without ending food-related conflict. 

In addition, low-income countries are also affected by domestic food price inflation caused by rising international fuel and food prices due to the COVID-19 pandemic and Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

On July 12, the 2023 edition of The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World (SOFI) was jointly released by five UN agencies (FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP, WHO). The report estimates that between 691 and 783 million people faced hunger in 2022, an increase of 122 million from 2019 before the COVID-19 pandemic.

WFP and FAO. 2023. Hunger Hotspots. FAO‑WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity, June 2023 to November 2023 outlook. Rome. 

Nature 619, 8 (2023) EDITORIAL 04 July 2023. Hunger and famine are not accidents — they are created by the actions of people: https://doi.org/10.1038/d41586-023-02207-2

Contributors: Solongo TUMUR and IIYAMA Miyuki (Information Program)


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