The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) warn that in 23 countries and situations, acute food insecurity is likely to further deteriorate in the outlook period from August to November 2021. Ethiopia and Madagascar are new highest-alert hotspots. In Ethiopia, up to 401 000 people are projected to be in Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) between July and September 2021 – the highest number since the 2011 famine in Somalia – due to the impact of conflict in Tigray region. These are contained in the executive summary released in May by the UN organ.
The Famine Review Committee estimates a medium to high risk of famine in three out of four possible scenarios. In Madagascar, a total of 28 000 people are also at risk of famine by the end of 2021, due to the country’s worst drought in 40 years. South Sudan, Yemen and Nigeria remain highest alert level hotspots from the previous edition of this report, with an outlook of catastrophic situations. In South Sudan, famine was most likely already happening in parts of Pibor county, between October and November 2020, and was expected to continue in the absence of sustained and timely humanitarian assistance.
Two other areas remain at risk of famine. In Yemen, the risk of more people facing famine-like conditions may have been contained, but gains remain extremely fragile. In Nigeria, populations in conflict-affected areas in the northeast may be at risk of reaching catastrophic food-insecurity levels. Among the other countries and situations highlighted in the report, those of particular concern are those with high numbers of people in critical food insecurity coupled with worsening drivers: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Honduras, the Sudan and the Syrian Arab Republic. Chad, Colombia, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Myanmar, Kenya and Nicaragua have been added to the list of hotspots, compared to the March 2021 edition of the report. Venezuela (Bolivarian Republic of) is not included due to lack of recent data.
The report reiterates the alarming rate at which acute food security is rising globally, as forewarned in the past three editions of the FAO-WFP Hunger Hotspots report. In 2020, 155 million people were estimated to be in acute high food insecurity (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) across 55 countries/territories, up by 20 million from 2019; this negative trend is continuing well into 2021. Acute hunger is increasing not only in scale but also severity: overall, over 41 million people worldwide are now at risk of falling into famine or famine-like conditions, unless they receive immediate life and livelihood-saving assistance. Conflict is expected to remain the primary driver of acute hunger, alongside economic shocks – including secondary impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic – and natural hazard risks.
Higher international food prices risk further constraining vulnerable households’ access to food, as they transmit onto domestic food prices. The ongoing increase of climate hazards and weather extremes, and in their severity, is likely to continue during the outlook period, affecting livelihoods in several parts of the world. Targeted humanitarian action is urgently needed to save lives and livelihoods in 23 hotspots. Moreover, in five of these hotspots, humanitarian actions are critical to preventing famine and death. The report provides country-specific recommendations on priorities for emergency response, as well as anticipatory action to address existing humanitarian needs and ensure short-term protective interventions before new needs materialize.
FAO and WFP are issuing an early warning for urgent humanitarian actions in 23 countries and situations – called ‘hotspots’– where part of the population is likely to face fast deterioration of acute food insecurity that will put their lives and livelihoods at risk. Identified through forward-looking analysis, these hotspots have potential for acute food insecurity to rise between August and November 2021, under the effects of often multiple drivers, interlinked or mutually reinforcing. These risks fall under the categories of violence and conflict, economic shocks, ongoing socio-economic impacts of COVID-19, weather extremes and climate variability, plant pests and diseases, and animal diseases. Drivers often co-exist and reinforce one another. As recounted by the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises, conflict continues to be the primary driver for the largest share of people facing acute food insecurity (around 65 percent), while the economic impact of the pandemic is of increasing immediate and long-term concern, as it plays into weakening currencies, rapid inflation, high food prices and widening unemployment, combined with increasing debt and low purchasing power. Weather extremes remain a significant driver, and a major one in some of the countries, through heavy rains, tropical storms, hurricanes, flooding and drought. Targeted humanitarian action is urgently needed to save lives and livelihoods in 23 hotspots. Moreover, in 5 of these hotspots, humanitarian actions are critical to preventing famine and death. To this end, the report provides country-specific recommendations on priorities for a) anticipatory action: short-term protective interventions to be implemented before new humanitarian needs materialize; and b) emergency response: actions to address existing humanitarian needs. Situations of acute food insecurity continue to escalate: In 2020, 155 million people were facing Crisis or worse – Phase 3 or above of the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) or the Cadre Harmonisé (CH) – across 55 countries/territories covered in the Global Report on Food Crisis 2021.
This is a 20-million increase in comparison to the 135 million people reported for 2019. Over 41 million people worldwide are now at risk of falling into famine or famine-like conditions, unless they receive immediate life-saving assistance.
These deteriorating trends are mostly driven by conflict dynamics, as well as the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. These include food price spikes, movement restrictions that limit market and pastoralists activities alike, rising inflation, decreased purchasing power, and an early and prolonged lean season. Given a strict set of methodological parameters, the hotspot countries and locations were selected through a consensus-based process, which involved WFP and FAO Rome-based and field-based technical teams, as well as analysts specialized in conflict, economic risks and natural hazards