Hunger has returned to dominate entire areas of the world as never before and represents a daily reality for hundreds of millions of people



We are experiencing an unprecedented global food crisis. It is not just a slogan. After decades of progress in the fight against hunger, the latest data bring to light a somewhat shocking reality, providing a statistical framework that confirms the daily observations that our staff send us every day from the emergency areas.


According to WFP (World Food Programme) data, people living in severe food insecurity have risen to 345 million, more than double the number in 2019, when there were 135 million. That means that a population five times the size of Italy finds itself facing severe food shortages in just over three years. This hunger has the even more terrible name of famine for 50 million people, a term that, in humanitarian classification, indicates a catastrophe already in progress with a sharp increase in mortality rates.


In absence of accurate data, according to Unicef, more than 13 million children in the world are suffering from severe acute malnutrition, caused to conditions of severe wasting disease that, if untreated, may quickly lead to death. Should be act now to ensure access to care and food, save lives and avoid cancelling decades of development and improvement.


The cause of hunger


Wars remain the main cause of hunger and more than 60% of people experiencing severe insecurity food are in areas of conflict. In this context, the war in Ukraine is already causing an additional deterioration in many countries because of a sharp reduction in supplies of food, fuel, and fertilizer of which Ukraine was an important producer or supplier.


The prices increase limits the access to food for people living in poverty and affects the most fragile economies, on which the consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic are still weighing heavily. In Yemen, for example, in recent months, we have already observed the doubling of the cost of food, the collapse of fuel imports, and a surge in inflation. To give an example, in the south of the country a kilo of wheat flour now costs on average more than 800 rials (about US$3.20), compared to 146 rials before the crisis. For a Yemeni family, even getting bread is becoming increasingly difficult.


Finally, climate change and the impact of unusual floods and dry spells are impacting negatively crops and people’s livelihoods. The unpredictability and the extreme changes in climate have become a major factor in many crises, such as in South Sudan, where entire areas of the country are living with prolonged floods, crop destruction, and increasingly widespread outbreaks of famine. At the same time, other fragile countries marked by decades of conflicts, such as Afghanistan, are living the effects of exceptionally long periods of drought and increasing desertification.


The hunger hotspots


INTERSOS operates in what is called the main “hotspots” of hunger, that is, countries in dramatic conditions. We are present in the first four countries by number of inhabitants who live in acute food insecurity conditions. We observe huge numbers: the Democratic Republic of Congo with 25,9 million people who need urgent aid to cope with hunger; Nigeria with 19,5 million; Yemen with 19 million; Afghanistan with 18,9 million. We are also in South Sudan, the country with the highest percentage of people in acute food insecurity out of the total population.


We are at the forefront with extensive nutritional screening programs to detect cases of malnutrition. It consists of programs to take over cases of severe acute malnutrition for children aged 0 to 5 (the main victims of malnutrition) and for pregnant or lactating women (on whose adequate nutrition the lives of newborns depend). In addition, there are the so-called “food security” interventions (distributions of support for self-production of food).