Across the world, around 811 million people do not have enough food. Diets poor in vitamins, minerals and other nutrients are affecting the health and life prospects of millions more, and casting a shadow over the future of communities and entire countries.
Although enough food is produced to feed everyone on this planet, the goal of a world with zero hunger, as set out in the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and specifically in Sustainable Development Goal 2, remains hugely challenging due to a toxic combination of conflict, climate change, disasters and structural poverty and inequality. Over the past year, the socio-economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic have further exacerbated the situation by pushing millions of vulnerable people into greater food insecurity.
Here are 6 main drivers of hunger and what WFP is doing on the ground.
1 – Conflict
60 percent of the world’s hungry people live in zones affected by conflict, which is the main driver in 8 out of 10 of the worst hunger crises (as in the case of Yemen, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Syria, for example). To balance that, the WFP brings life-saving food and nutrition assistance to people trapped or displaced by fighting, wherever they are.
2 – Climate change
Climate change-related shocks such as floods or drought affect the lives and livelihoods of millions of people, aggravating poverty, hunger and social tensions. WFP helps governments and communities to understand these increasing risks and to take targeted measures to manage the impact of climate shocks on food security. WFP also strives to empower smallholder farmers through the sustainable dissemination of energy equipment and services for productive uses to boost agricultural market development.
3 – Disasters
When an earthquake, cyclone, a hurricane or other disaster strikes, WFP is a first responder, bringing food and other life-saving assistance to populations that have lost everything. As the leader of the inter-agency Logistics cluster, WFP provides coordination and information management in the response to large-scale disasters. WFP leads the provision of connectivity and carries out targeted geospatial analyses to show the immediate impact of natural disasters and allow for a faster response.
4 – Inequality
Inequality drives hunger by limiting people’s opportunities and increasing levels of hunger. Increasing access to employment, finance and markets, for example, can lift people out of poverty very quickly, increasing their productivity and spending power and stimulating local markets. WFP provides asset generation initiatives and cash transfers, in addition to supporting governments in strengthening the social safety nets they have in place to protect their citizens from poverty, inequality and food insecurity.
5 – Food loss
Poor storage facilities in farms lead to pest infestations and mould ruining crops. Lack of access to technology and markets means many farmers are forced to watch their crops rot in fields as the labour and financial investment required to harvest them is often unavailable. WFP runs several projects aimed at helping smallholder farmers learn how to use improved post-harvest handling methods, combined with simple but effective equipment to protect crops against insects, rodents, mould and moisture.
6 – COVID-19
The COVID-19 pandemic has pushed millions more people into food insecurity by disrupting production, trade and livelihoods, putting millions out of work. WFP set up a global passenger and cargo movement service allowing humanitarian staff and food and health supplies to reach vulnerable people. To address the increased needs created by the socio-economic effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, WFP has stepped up its cash and food assistance, and supported governments in strengthening their own social safety nets.