New Report Says 258 Million People Suffered Acute Food Insecurity Last Year

In 2023, out of a world population of around 8 billion, as many as 828 million face some level of food insecurity, according to the World Food Programme. Last year, as many as 258 million individuals in 58 countries suffered what the international community widely regards as acute food insecurity that is at or above "crisis" level, according to the 2023 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC)

Whereas food insecurity is defined as not having enough food to support a healthy, active lifestyle, acute food insecurity refers to a level at which lives and/or livelihoods are in imminent danger. When acute food insecurity reaches the crisis level, it means that without immediate intervention, those affected may die of malnutrition or flat-out starvation. Since 2016, conditions have worsened, and the number of people struggling with acute food insecurity has more than doubled.

Although the increase in acute food insecurity does, in part, reflect that more populations were analyzed for this year's report, Secretary-General of the United Nations, António Guterres, points out that "we are moving in the wrong direction" and that the findings are "unconscionable."

This new report suggests an end to world hunger remains out of reach

This new report on global food insecurity stands as a "stinging indictment of humanity's failure to make progress" toward ending world hunger by 2030, as Guterres notes, and the challenges responsible for the current situation remain formidable. These include international conflict, underdevelopment in many countries, the ongoing climate crisis and various national disasters as well as high rates of inflation that remain among the continuing consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic

This appears to be particularly true in some of the most vulnerable countries and territories. As the report indicates, at least 40% of those at or above crisis levels of acute food insecurity reside in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Afghanistan, Nigeria, and Yemen. Somalia, South Sudan, Afghanistan, Haiti, and Burkina, are also disproportionately affected. Somalia, in particular, is home to more than half of those in the world who are suffering the highest level of food insecurity (i.e., Phase 5, at which point death and destitution are rampant). Although the data is discouraging, Guterres ended the foreword on a hopeful note: "With collective action and a commitment to change, we can ensure that every person, everywhere, has access to the most basic of human needs: food and nutrition."