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Acute food insecurity is set to worsen in 18 global hotspots, driven by conflict, climate shocks, and economic crises, according to a UN report.

Conflict and Climate Shocks Fuel Extreme Hunger

By Darius Spearman (africanelements) | June 5, 2024

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The UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) have raised alarms about worsening food insecurity in 18 “hunger hotspots” across 22 countries and territories (SOURCE: WFP). The October 2023 Hunger Hotspots report predicts severe acute food insecurity from November 2023 to April 2024 due to conflict, climate shocks, and economic crises (SOURCE: FAO).

Dire Situations in South Sudan, Sudan, Burkina Faso, Mali, and Palestine

Countries facing the most severe food insecurity include Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan, Sudan, and Palestine. In South Sudan, over 7.1 million people suffer extreme hunger due to ongoing civil war, displacement, and economic collapse. The persistent conflict has left millions without access to basic necessities, driving up hunger rates dramatically. Similarly, in Sudan, recent conflict has displaced millions and disrupted food production, leaving 2.5 million facing acute hunger.

El Niño Intensifies Global Food Crises

El Niño is exacerbating food insecurity worldwide. Warmer sea surface temperatures in the Pacific are disrupting global rainfall patterns, severely impacting crop yields. Over 110 million people may need food assistance due to these extreme weather conditions (SOURCE: NASA Earth Observatory).

Immediate Action Needed to Save Lives

FAO and WFP stress that urgent, scaled-up action is critical to protect lives and prevent further deterioration. Conflict and administrative hurdles often restrict humanitarian access. Addressing the root causes of hunger requires global investment and political will. Without immediate action, the situation is likely to deteriorate further, putting millions more at risk of starvation.

Conflict Remains a Major Driver of Acute Hunger

Violent conflict drives acute food insecurity in many “hunger hotspots.” In sub-Saharan Africa, conflict disrupts agriculture, displaces communities, and destroys infrastructure, leading to severe food shortages. The link between conflict and hunger is clear: conflict displaces farmers, destroys crops, and disrupts supply chains, which in turn fuels more conflict.

Urgent Need for Comprehensive Solutions

To tackle hunger effectively, the UN recommends improving humanitarian access and taking anticipatory actions. Integrating humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding efforts is essential to break the cycle of conflict and hunger. Long-term solutions, including investment in agriculture and resilience-building, are crucial. The global community must act now to prevent further catastrophe.

Famine Looms in Gaza, Starvation Persists in African Hotspots

The report identifies Mali, Gaza, South Sudan, Sudan, and Haiti as areas of highest concern, requiring the most urgent attention to avert widespread starvation and death. In these hunger crises, the UN agencies stress that only immediate humanitarian action delivered at scale, including a balanced mix of food assistance, cash, and emergency livelihood support, can prevent a further catastrophic deterioration.

Improved Access, Anticipatory Action, Long-Term Solutions

To effectively tackle these hunger crises, the UN report provides several key recommendations. Improving humanitarian access to deliver critical assistance is an urgent priority, as insecurity and restrictions impede aid efforts in several hotspots. The report also calls for anticipatory action and emergency response to address existing needs and prevent further deterioration. Country-specific recommendations outline priorities for short-term protective interventions.

However, experts stress that a transformative approach is ultimately needed to break the persistent cycle of acute hunger. This will require integrating humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding efforts, alongside greater investments in long-term solutions to boost resilience. Mobilizing the resources and political will to implement these recommendations and ramp up assistance will be critical to save lives and livelihoods in the months ahead. As the UN warns, “the outlook is grim” without urgent action to prevent famine and fight devastating hunger.

Urgent Action Needed to Save Lives, Address Root Causes

The UN stresses that urgent action is critical in all identified hunger hotspots to both provide immediate life-saving assistance and to address the underlying drivers of food crises, particularly conflict. Ultimately, achieving long-term food security will require investments and political will to build resilience, support peacebuilding efforts, and break the links between conflict and hunger (SOURCE: InterAction).

UN Warns Famine Looms in Gaza, Starvation Risk Persists in African Hotspots

Urgent Humanitarian Aid Needed to Prevent Catastrophic Hunger in 18 Hotspots

The UN has sounded the alarm that acute food insecurity is set to dramatically worsen in 18 “hunger hotspots” in the coming months, spotlighting the urgent need for assistance to prevent famine. The latest Hunger Hotspots report, issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP) in October 2023, warns that these hotspots across 22 countries and territories face a significant deterioration of already high levels of acute hunger.

Famine Looming in Gaza, Starvation Persists in Sudan, Haiti, Mali, South Sudan

The report identifies Mali, Gaza, South Sudan, Sudan, and Haiti as the areas of highest concern, requiring the most urgent attention to avert widespread starvation and death. In these hunger crises, the UN agencies stress that only immediate humanitarian action delivered at scale, including a balanced mix of food assistance, cash, and emergency livelihood support, can prevent a further catastrophic deterioration.

Conflict, Climate Shocks, Economic Crises Drive Unprecedented Food Insecurity

The report highlights the complex interplay of conflict, climate extremes, and economic shocks that are driving these unprecedented levels of acute hunger. The multiplier effect of these overlapping crises is pushing millions to the brink of starvation.

In South Sudan, a country ravaged by years of brutal civil war, over half the population is facing extreme hunger. More than 7 million people are in urgent need of aid as conflict and economic collapse push the country deeper into catastrophe.

Improved Access, Anticipatory Action, Long-Term Solutions Key Recommendations

To effectively tackle these hunger crises, the UN report provides several key recommendations. Improving humanitarian access to deliver critical assistance is an urgent priority, as insecurity and restrictions impede aid efforts in several hotspots.

The report also calls for anticipatory action and emergency response to address existing needs and prevent further deterioration. Country-specific recommendations outline priorities for short-term protective interventions.

However, experts stress that a transformative approach is ultimately needed to break the persistent cycle of acute hunger. This will require integrating humanitarian, development, and peacebuilding efforts, alongside greater investments in long-term solutions to boost resilience. Mobilizing the resources and political will to implement these recommendations and ramp up assistance will be critical to save lives and livelihoods in the months ahead. As the UN warns, “the outlook is grim” without urgent action to prevent famine and fight devastating hunger.

Mobilize for Global Food Security: Act Now to Save Lives

Addressing global food insecurity requires urgent action, comprehensive solutions, and strong political will. The stakes are high, but with coordinated efforts, we can save lives and build a resilient future. The global community must mobilize resources and political will to implement these recommendations and ramp up assistance in the months ahead. As the UN warns, “the outlook is grim” without urgent action to prevent famine and fight devastating hunger.

About the author

Darius Spearman has been a professor of Black Studies at San Diego City College since 2007. He has authored several books, including Between The Color Lines: A History of African Americans on the California Frontier Through 1890. You can visit Darius online at africanelements.org.