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Knowledge Centre for Global Food and Nutrition Security

We support the EU global commitment to end hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition through a dedicated, reinforced science-policy interface and a fostered inter-policy dialogue.

Page | Last updated: 22 Apr 2024

Brief me on "Food security and food crises"

The proliferation of conflicts and the multiplication of extreme climate events, against the backdrop of the Covid-19 global economic recession and growing inequalities, has increased rapidly and consistently the number of food insecure people globally, moving further away the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) of ending hunger, food insecurity and all forms of malnutrition by 2030.

Russia’s war against Ukraine puts an extra burden on global food security notably through a sharp increase in food, fertiliser and energy prices.

The State of Food Security and Nutrition Report (SOFI) is jointly prepared by FAO, IFAD, UNICEF, WFP and WHO and informs on the progress towards achieving SDG2. The Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) is prepared by the Global network against Food Crises and informs on the size of the needs in food crises prone areas. These reports indicate a worsening trend of the state of food insecurity worldwide.

According to the latest edition of the SOFI (2023), between 691 and 783 million people in the world face hunger in 2022. The number has grown by about 122 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. Hunger is still on the rise in Western Asia, the Caribbean and all subregions of Africa. About 29.6 percent of the global population – 2.4 billion people – were moderately or severely food insecure in 2022 (SDG Indicator 2.1.2), of which about 900 million (11.3 percent of people in the world) were severely food insecure. Worldwide, food insecurity disproportionately affects women and people living in rural areas. More than 3.1 billion people in the world – or 42 percent – were unable to afford a healthy diet in 2021.

The Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) has flagged high levels of acute hunger, consistently above 100 million people and increasing since 2016. The latest edition in 2023 estimated that about 258 million people in 58 food crisis countries and territories faced high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above or equivalent) and required urgent food assistance in 2022. This represents 22.7% of the population analysed and is the highest number in the seven-year history of the GRFC and 34% higher than the number presented in the GRFC 2022. Protracted conflicts is the main drivers of acute food insecurity while the lingering effects of global economic recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the repercussions of Russia’s war against Ukraine, as well as weather extremes also play a major role. Numbers reported in the GRFC come mainly from the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) and the Cadre Harmonisé (CH).

In West Africa, the Sahel and Cameroon, the Food Crises Prevention Network (Reseau de Prevention des Crises alimentaires - RPCA) promotes dialogue and co-ordination, to build a coherent and shared understanding of the region’s food and nutrition situation and to inform decision-making. The Food Aid Charter adopted for the first time in 1990 by Heads of State of CILSS (Comité Permanent Inter-États de Lutte contre la Sécheresse dans le Sahel) calls for strengthening information systems and dialogue platforms, and to ensure the coherence of interventions, thereby improving the effectiveness of collective action. The Charter is subject to internal and external assessments conducted within the framework of the RPCA.

Humanitarian assistance remains critical to promptly save lives and livelihoods, and alleviate human suffering. The 2022 Report on Financing Flows and Food Crises    presents a quantitative analysis of trends of the humanitarian and development assistance to food sectors globally, regionally, and nationally between 2016 and 2021. The Ceres2030 studies underline that donors would need to double their contribution to end hunger and double the incomes of small-scale producers by 2030.

Current high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition call for a transition towards more sustainable and resilient food systems  to ensure access to safe and nutritious food for all, in particular in fragile contexts. The United Nations Food Systems Summit in 2021 (UNFSS) has given birth to an international Coalition for action with this objective. The European Union has adopted an ambitious strategy towards sustainable food systems (Farm to Fork strategy) and is committed to support such transition at global level through its trade policies and international cooperation instruments.

With the objective to provide a rapid overview of main definitions relevant to understanding the key elements of international food security and food crises reporting and response, the Knowledge Centre on Global Food and Nutrition Security has produced a Scientific Brief on Food Security and Food Crises. (cf. document below).