According to a new report from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP), acute food insecurity will likely worsen through April 2024 in 18 of the world’s most dangerous hunger hotspots.
The hotspots include 22 countries and territories, as well as two regional clusters. On October 31, 2023, the Outlook Report Hotspots for Hunger was released.
The selection of hotspots for hunger in the document is based on a consensus between food security experts, conflict, economics, and natural hazards analysts at FAO and WFP.
The countries identified are Burkina Faso, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, Niger, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua.
In these countries, food security is likely to deteriorate significantly over the next six months.
In all of these hotspots, populations are either experiencing or will experience acute levels of food insecurity. This is in addition to the worsening conditions that are expected in the next few months.
Four African countries — Burkina Faso (formerly Burundi), Mali (formerly Mali), South Sudan, and Sudan — continue to be the most concerned. Palestine was added to this list due to the severity of the conflict in the Gaza Strip that erupted in October 2023.
Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Pakistan, Somalia, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Yemen are identified as high-risk areas in the report. The report listed key drivers of food insecurity, which include conflict, dry climatic conditions, economic shocks, high food prices, and extreme weather events.
Extreme weather conditions, including heavy rains tro, physical storms, and cyclones, as well as flooding, droughts, and climate variability, are major factors in acute food insecurity.
Mali and Burkina Faso may experience an increase in food insecurity during the forecast period. This is mainly due to escalating violence levels, which worsen access restrictions.
Food insecurity is expected to remain critical in South Sudan even after the harvest begins in October. This is due to inadequate crop production, high prices of staple foods, and a lack of resources to help support the growing number of Sudanese returnees.
The devastating effects of conflict on livelihoods and agriculture, as well as the economy in general, coupled with the internal displacement between April 2023 and October 2023 of 4.4 million people, will lead to a high level of acute food security in Sudan.
It is essential to avert the further deterioration of acute food insecurity and malnutrition, the report said. However, humanitarian access is limited in various ways, including insecurity due to organized violence or conflict, the presence of administrative or bureaucratic impediments, and movement restrictions.
The report included country-specific recommendations for priority emergency responses as well as proactive actions to address current humanitarian needs and ensure that short-term protective measures are taken before new needs arise.
Kavitha Kuruganti is the founder of the Alliance for Sustainable and Holistic Agriculture. The organization works to improve agricultural livelihoods. She says that one possible solution could be giving import preference to countries that don’t cultivate GMO varieties. She says that even shipments with non-GMO certifications should be tested.
The issue will only get worse as countries continue to develop GMOs. Australia has developed a GM banana variety that is awaiting approval for commercial cultivation. The list of GMOs is likely to grow.