Many regions and countries around the world are experiencing a renewed spike in hunger.
Of the 29 countries currently classified by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) as worst affected by food shortages, 21 are in Africa, seven are in Asia and Haiti is the most food insecure country in the Latin America and Caribbean region.
In the Horn of Africa, continuing high fuel and food prices have compounded an already critical food situation caused by widespread drought and ongoing conflict. Poor April 2011 rains are also a concern for crop production in Kenya, Somalia and parts of Ethiopia.
Somalia is at crisis level with approximately 2.4 million people in need of food assistance due to severe drought and ongoing civil conflict.
In Kenya, some 2.4 million people are food insecure. Pastoralist areas in north-eastern Kenya are approaching “worst-case scenario” levels, due to drier than normal weather conditions.
Poor rains in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia in late 2010 have increased the number of food insecure people from 2.3 million to 2.8 million.
Around one million people have been displaced in Cote d’Ivoire, following months of political violence, impacting farmers’ ability to look after crops.
Additionally, approximately 239 million people living in sub-Saharan Africa are currently malnourished. In Zimbabwe, families are spending up to 80% of their income on food. Flooding in central and southern Mozambique has damaged crops.
Middle East & North Africa
Some 37 million people face hunger in this region. The UN has identified Iran, Iraq and the Gaza Strip as being particularly vulnerable to food insecurity. Some recent demonstrations in parts of the Middle East and North Africa are linked to dissatisfaction with increased food prices.
Asia & the Pacific
Some 578 million people are undernourished in Asia and the Pacific region, according to the FAO. Prices of rice and wheat remain high despite decreases in some countries. Erratic weather across the region is affecting agricultural production.
Severe flooding in Pakistan in mid-2010 affected some 20.5 million people. An estimated 2.1 million hectares of crops and one million tonnes of food and seed stocks were destroyed, and this will continue to negatively impact the country for years to come.
The poorest Asian families spend up to 70% of their income on food. When prices are high, families do not necessarily stop buying rice, rather they begin to reduce their consumption of vitamin and mineral-rich foods needed to help children grow, and reduce their spending on education and other important services.
Latin America & the Caribbean
Basic food prices are high in much of Latin America and the Caribbean. Wheat and maize (corn) prices are on the increase in South America.
More than 3 million people currently need food assistance in Haiti. The cholera epidemic of late 2010, followed by Hurricane Tomas, coupled with an unstable political climate and high food prices, are contributing to food insecurity for Haitians who were already affected by the January 2010 earthquake.
Food and nutrition is a fundamental issue for World Vision, as so many other problems stem from food insecurity and malnutrition. With the ongoing support of ordinary people, we can continue our efforts to address the food and nutrition needs of vulnerable communities worldwide.