Food insecurity is once again rising around the world. Arif Husain, chief economist of the UN’s World Food Program, says that hunger and migration “are no longer somebody else’s problem, we have to work collectively.” War, conflicts and droughts left 124 million people vulnerable to food shortages and this number is getting worse. It marks an increase from 108 million people in 2016 and 80 million in 2015. “Until we have peace, don’t expect these numbers to go down,” Mr. Husain said.
The WFP defines food security as the state in which food is available in sufficient quantities and on a consistent basis considering not only production in a given area but also the capacity to bring in food from elsewhere. Two main driving forces behind food insecurity are war and climate shocks. Eighteen conflict-ridden countries account for 74 million out of the 124 million, while droughts left 39 million people vulnerable to food insecurity. “What we are seeing is the vulnerabilities of people is continuing to increase because conflicts are becoming protracted,” Mr. Husain said. “The Syrian crisis has now lasted seven years. The impact on the next generation in countries like Afghanistan, Somalia and Sudan is terrible. We should do everything in our power to do something to resolve these conflicts.”
The European Commission and 28 EU member states provided €2.7 billion for the WFP’s programming in 2017, making them its largest donor. Yet, this funding is but a small bit of what is needed. “We are very appreciative of what is coming from the Commission and the member states but the problem is that it’s not enough. We received $26 billion in 2016 in humanitarian assistance but it was 40% less than what was needed,” Mr. Arif further explained. Of that, around 50% of the money was spent in Syria, Yemen, Iraq and South Sudan, with the remainder distributed across 44 countries. WFP estimates that additional $9 billion will be needed this year to help around 80 million people across these countries.