Some 124 million people in 51 countries were affected by acute food insecurity during 2017, 11 million more people than the year before, according to the latest edition of the Global Report on Food Crises published in March 2018.
The increase is largely attributable to new or intensified conflict and insecurity in Myanmar, north-east Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan and Yemen. Prolonged drought conditions also resulted in consecutive poor harvests in countries already facing high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in eastern and southern Africa.
The report was produced by a group of international humanitarian partners including the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP).
It finds that food crises are increasingly determined by complex causes such as conflict, extreme climatic shocks and high prices of staple food often acting at the same time.
Conflict and climate disasters are main drivers of food insecurity
Conflict continued to be the main driver of acute food insecurity in 18 countries, 15 of them in Africa or the Middle East. It is the primary reason for most of the world's cases of acute food insecurity, accounting for 60 percent of the global total, or 74 million people.
Climate disasters, mainly drought, were also major triggers of food crises in 23 countries, two-thirds of them in Africa, and were responsible for pushing some 39 million people into acute food insecurity.
Conflict will likely remain a major driver of food crises in 2018, affecting Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, north-eastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen as well as Libya and the central Sahel (Mali and Niger), according to the report.
Yemen will mostly likely continue to be the largest food crisis by far. The situation there is expected to deteriorate, particularly because of restricted access, economic collapse and outbreaks of disease.
Meanwhile, the impact of severe dry weather on crop and livestock production is likely to heighten food insecurity in pastoral areas of Somalia, south-eastern Ethiopia and eastern Kenya, and in West African and Sahel countries including Senegal, Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.
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