BELMONT, North Carolina — In 2022, approximately 50 million people in 45 different countries are on the brink of starvation as the looming global food crisis threatens to reverse the food security gains made over the past two decades. More than 800 million people go to bed hungry every night, reports the World Food Program (WFP). Of this number, 345 million people endure acute food insecurity, meaning that their lack of access to food poses an immediate threat to their lives or livelihoods, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. The United Nations developed WFP in 1961 specifically to deal with global famine-related disasters. As the “world’s largest hunger-focused humanitarian organization”, WFP’s emergency response to the global food crisis is well equipped to deal with the food crisis.
The WFP 2022 Global Report
The protracted conflict in Ukraine has exacerbated global hunger levels, which were already on the rise in 2021 due to economic shocks from the COVID-19 pandemic. The conflict has had wide repercussions on the global food supply as the Black Sea region is a major producer of agricultural products. Conflict-related disruptions have pushed “an additional 50 million people into severe famine in 2022”, reports Al Jazeera. Globally, an additional 19 million people could be chronically undernourished in 2023 as inflation soars due to global supply chain strains.
While food price inflation will affect people in all countries, poor people in developing countries are expected to be hardest hit. Food costs typically represent around 50% of the average household budget in many developing countries. Consequently, impoverished populations will be forced to give up their ‘productive assets’, decrease their rate of food consumption and withdraw their children from educational institutions. These sacrifices will plunge countless people into poverty, undoing years of progress in poverty reduction. The World Bank predicts that due to the conflict in Ukraine, up to 95 million people could endure extreme poverty in 2022.
WFP’s emergency response to the global food crisis aims to mitigate the devastating effects of the impending food crisis in order to maintain hard-won international social development standards and reduce social and political instability in vulnerable regions.
Overview of WFP’s emergency response
In 2021, WFP was able to support a record 128 million people in the face of hunger. To meet the growing needs for food assistance worldwide, WFP plans to support 151.6 million people in 2022. The budgetary requirements of this objective translate into an “annual operational requirement” of $22.2 billion. However, in June 2022, the world’s seven richest countries only pledged to a total of $4.5 billion to combat global food insecurity.
Closing the funding gap is crucial, as is implementing long-term solutions that will end people’s dependence on humanitarian aid. This is why many NGOs and activist networks are calling on world leaders to invest in the WFP plan, which funds locally-driven and sustainable solutions. It is important that in the future, the global community invests in the populations most vulnerable to food insecurity by providing them with pathways to independence.
Outstanding WFP Initiatives
WFP works actively to improve “the lives of more than 115.5 million people in [more than]120 countries and territories”, his website says. Much of WFP’s work focuses on emergency relief, providing humanitarian aid to populations in distress. WFP leverages its long-standing partnerships and international prestige to seek out and invest in sustainable development, helping governments adopt sustainable food management solutions. This helps to strengthen vulnerable populations against future drivers of food insecurity.
- Emergency response. WFP is a frontline NGO, responding to global emergencies with humanitarian aid and essential services. On a daily basis, the WFP deploys “5,600 trucks, 30 ships and 100 planes” to deliver WFP aid to people in crisis. Much of this aid is directed to areas where needs are most concentrated, known as emergencies. As of September 2022, WFP is currently grappling with food emergencies in several countries, many of which are in conflict-affected countries.
- Support farmers. small farmers produce 80% of the world’s food supply, however, they also often suffer from food insecurity. Supporting smallholder farmers is essential to achieving “a world without hunger” and to building a sustainable global food system. WFP supports smallholder farmers in a variety of ways, from building climate resilience, providing business skills training and expanding market access. These programs also enable national governments to design and adopt policies that will better defend the interests and needs of smallholder farmers, thereby strengthening domestic value chains and food supplies.
- Building resilience. In 2021 alone, WFP provided climate resilience solutions to 12.2 million people in 47 countries through “forecast-based financing”. These solutions include establish “irrigation systems, beekeeping apiaries, chicken coops, fish ponds, rainwater harvesting dams and provide farmers with seeds and mechanized agricultural tools”. WFP’s emergency response to the global food crisis will continue to expand preventative climate initiatives, as extreme weather events remain a key driver of global hunger rates.
A final preview
The burgeoning food crisis will affect people around the world, with the most vulnerable regions facing record levels of hunger. WFP’s multipurpose structure enables it to deliver lifesaving emergency assistance to the world’s hungriest regions while simultaneously supporting programs that build food resilience. Resilience programs aim to end the community’s dependence on humanitarian aid, opening pathways to further social and economic development.
The WFP’s work matters for a multitude of reasons, and the impact of food resilience programs is hard to overestimate. Food insecurity is a major driver of regional insecurity and conflict, as violence escalates when a population’s basic needs are not met. High levels of hunger are often associated with high levels of migration, which can contribute to the dispersion of instability and violence across borders. Thus, the work of the WFP is important in maintaining social and political stability on a global scale.
Photo: Wikimedia Commons