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World hunger: three causes of the current hunger crisis

Secure, reliable access to food is one of the basic building blocks that makes it possible for people to lift themselves out of poverty. However, after decades of progress, hunger in the world and severe food insecurity are on the rise.

Right now, the world stands on the edge of another crisis.

Right now, 50 million people are on the brink of famine due to conflict and the climate crisis.

In Somalia alone, an estimated seven million people are likely to face acute food insecurity between June and September this year.

Without immediate therapeutic food and care, almost eight million children under five are at risk of death from malnutrition, with the number rising by the minute.

What’s caused this world hunger crisis?

1. Global food supply problems

People are forced to rely on expensive food imports, and the war in Ukraine has led to prices skyrocketing, with the cost of basic food supplies such as cooking oil and flour doubling in some countries since Russia’s invasion began. And with wheat imports being disrupted, supplies of essentials are running low.

Countries where Tearfund is working, including Afghanistan, Yemen, Somalia, Uganda, Ethiopia and Sudan, depend heavily on wheat imports from Ukraine and Russia, which account for 40-90% of supplies. In these countries, families rely on wheat to meet their daily needs.

2. Climate change

The climate crisis has changed weather patterns in the region: the UN has warned that across the Horn of Africa, the rainy season of March to May 2022 is likely to have been the driest on record. With four successive failed rainy seasons, and another one potentially on the way, food is scarce and harvests have withered away. Severe drought is crippling communities across Afghanistan, where 60% of families rely on farming for their livelihoods.

For rural communities who rely on farming, the drought has made their way of life impossible. It also means that, when the rains do come, the land can no longer absorb the water like it used to. This leads to flash flooding – as the water has nowhere to go. Homes and what little crops or cattle are left are washed away.

3. Conflict

Conflict is the most powerful driver of the food crisis globally, responsible for the largest share of people facing life-threatening hunger (65%). From Yemen to South Sudan, Mozambique and Afghanistan, protracted fighting has destroyed livelihoods and forced families to flee their homes.

As one of our partners shares, conflict is driving the crisis in northern Ethiopia, while drought drives the crisis in southern parts of the country. “In the past year, it is getting worse,” shares Abraham Alembo, Head of Disaster Prevention and Peace Building Unit with Ethiopian Kale Heywet Church Development Commission. “There is not sufficient rain and communities have missed seasonal crops for at least the last four consecutive seasons. The most vulnerable groups like children under five years, pregnant and lactating women, the elderly and people with chronic illnesses are in a serious condition. Many of them have been malnourished.”

This is a generational crisis - we have not seen the breadth and scale of this sort of hunger crisis for decades. And once again, as so often is the case for big global injustices, the main drivers for this situation are completely outside of the control of the families being hit the hardest. Rather than stand back and simply lament the situation - we can and must do something to respond.

Matthew Maury Tearfund CEO

What Tearfund is doing:

Tearfund Australia’s partners are actively working in the countries hardest hit by this hunger crisis including Afghanistan, Yemen, Mozambique, Somalia, South Sudan and Ethiopia. Our long term focus on supporting climate resilient agriculture, food and livelihoods projects and an acute focus on food security is making a real and lasting impact.

Read Caterina’s story and learn about our work with Sudan Evangelical Mission in South Sudan.

Your support can help those hardest hit by this crisis.

Tearfund’s partners are supporting communities where this hunger crisis is most severe, but they need your support to continue this work. Jesus says: “Just as you did it to one of the least of these … you did it to me” (Matthew 25:40). Jesus’ invitation is for us to be his hands and feet to people whose lives are made vulnerable by this unfolding, unjust situation.

Hunger Crisis Appeal

Your support can help those hardest hit by this crisis.

Can provide life-saving health and nutrition care for children at risk of malnutrition.

Can provide seeds, tools and training in sustainable agriculture for farmers groups.

Can help families better provide for themselves with strengthened livelihoods.

Can provide immediate assistance and long-term support for communities at risk of disaster.