This week, world leaders will turn their attention to the global hunger crisis at two crucial events hosted by the United States: a ministerial-level meeting on May 18 and an open Security Council debate on May 19. The overarching goal of these events is to catalyze action on global food security and resilience, focusing on the critical links between conflict and hunger, including the impacts of war in Ukraine.
As humanitarian and development organizations working around the world to prevent and respond to the unprecedented levels of food insecurity and the looming threat of famine that we face today, we commend the United States for placed this urgent crisis at the top of the agenda of their presidency of the UN Security Council. We urge governments to seize this opportunity to make concrete and substantial commitments to meet the needs identified by affected states, civil society and people suffering from hunger.
Global food security has steadily deteriorated in recent years. According to the 2022 Global Report on Food Crises, nearly 193 million people experienced crisis level or worsening food insecurity in 2021, an increase of nearly 40 million from the previous record high in 2020. The negative outlook for food security is expected to continue or worsen this year, and the impact of the Ukraine crisis on global food systems will only contribute to further decline.
The global hunger crisis is felt most by vulnerable and marginalized people who have limited capacity to absorb additional shocks. This includes women and girls who, despite the key role they play in food production and preparation, often eat last and least during times of acute food insecurity, are at greater risk of experiencing violence. and various forms of exploitation and abuse, and are often left out of conversations about how to address food insecurity. Food insecurity and malnutrition also have a devastating impact on children, exposing them to immediate and lifelong cognitive and developmental impacts, weakening their immune systems and leading to negative household coping strategies such as child labour, withdrawal of children from school and gender-based violence, including child marriage and other forms of violence against children.
The ongoing conflict in Ukraine and the resulting disruptions to food, fuel and fertilizer markets have exacerbated an existing food crisis driven by conflict, climate shocks, COVID-19 and economic pressures, in particular in contexts already affected by humanitarian crises. In order to pull people away from the brink of starvation, create sustainable food systems and prevent future food crises, we need comprehensive solutions that address the myriad drivers and impacts of food insecurity. .
Global humanitarian funding to prevent and respond to food insecurity is critical, and the international community must view this moment as a tipping point to avert catastrophe. However, emergency aid alone is not enough to end this crisis. Donors need to better leverage longer-term funding mechanisms to anticipate rising global hunger levels and promote resilience. States must also engage in concerted diplomacy and cooperation to deliver rights-based trade, economic, climate, food and social protection policies, and avoid restrictive trade measures that threaten to plunge millions more into acute food insecurity.
In support of this, States, donors, multilateral actors and other stakeholders seeking to address global food security, including conflict-induced hunger, should take the following concrete actions:
First, prioritize inclusive diplomacy to address the root causes of food insecurity and support policy measures that protect the ability of poor and vulnerable people to access food and livelihoods. This includes keeping ports and trade flows open, easing balance of payments pressures, investing in social protection and safety nets, and supporting domestic food production and equitable distribution of land that empowers small producers, including women. It also requires maintaining the protection of civilians and civilian objects during conflict and addressing the effects of climate change on food security by meeting the climate action funding commitments of the Paris Agreement and by operationalizing the Santiago network.
Second, protect and increase funding to respond to the short, medium and long term impacts of the food security crisis. Donors should increase their support for global humanitarian appeals, maintain their official development assistance (ODA) commitments and refrain from diverting aid from pre-existing crises to new emergencies, including the Ukraine crisis and the national refugee responses. Efforts should be made to direct aid to local organizations, including women-led organizations, that are already responding to hunger in their communities. In addition, donors should increase predictable, multi-year funding for humanitarian, development and peacebuilding programs to build resilience, ensuring that funding and programs are coherent, coordinated and gender transformative. .
Third, adapt food assistance modalities – including cash, vouchers, in-kind food assistance, livelihoods and agricultural support – to each context. While the overall goal of assistance is to save lives immediately, careful consideration of aid modalities can help build resilience to global market disruptions. Donors should recognize that cash and vouchers can reach hungry people in crisis more quickly than short-term commodity aid. Increasing support for small-scale farmers and sustainable farming practices, such as agroecology and renewable energy for agricultural production, is key to increasing livelihoods and helping farmers cope with rising fuel prices and the reduced access to fertilizers and other inputs.
Finally, the Security Council must address conflict-induced hunger by fully implementing UNSC resolutions 2417 (2018) and 2573 (2021).. Monitoring and reporting on the risk of famine and food insecurity in countries affected by armed conflict should be more systematic, and prompt follow-up action must be taken to ensure that perpetrators of violations of international humanitarian law answer for their actions. The denial of access to humanitarian aid, the use of hunger as a weapon of war and acts of violence that threaten or injure civilians or destroy essential civilian infrastructure, intentionally or unintentionally, cannot be tolerated. Member States, especially donors, should strengthen their humanitarian diplomacy to prevent such violations of international humanitarian law and respond to such incidents when they occur.
We hope these crucial meetings will serve as a first step in a sustained global effort to address the drivers and humanitarian impact of the global hunger crisis. It is essential that the goodwill and commitments presented this week translate into immediate and sustained action.
We urge the U.S. government and other participating member states to remain alert to this crisis and promote accountability by identifying opportunities for continued high-level engagement and progress monitoring.. The G7 Leaders’ Summit in June and the UN General Assembly in September are high profile moments to galvanize this momentum into tangible results.
The world cannot wait for a declaration of famine to act. By then, it will be too late. We urge the international community to deploy all its resources, diplomacy and political actions to prevent large-scale loss of life from hunger and promote sustainable food security for millions of people around the world.
- Action against Hunger
- bread for the world
- CARE International
- ChildFund Alliance
- Christian help
- Concern worldwide
- Dignity and Justice on the Camino AC
- Danish Refugee Council (DRC)
- Ethiopian Community Development Council
- Pakistan Rural Development Foundation
- Global Communities
- Global Refugee Youth Network (GRYN)
- Helping hand for relief and development
- Humanity & Inclusion
- IMPACT initiatives
- International Medical Corps
- International Rescue Committee
- Islamic Relief USA
- body of mercy
- Norwegian Church Aid (NCA)
- Norwegian People’s Aid (NPA)
- Norwegian Refugee Council
- Oxfam International
- People in need
- International level
- Polish Humanitarian Action (PAH)
- International refugees
- save the children
- International Solidarity
- The Hunger Project
- Water for South Sudan, Inc.
- Women for International Women
- Women’s Refugee Commission
- World Vision
Action Against Hunger leads a global movement to end hunger in our lifetime. It innovates solutions, advocates for change, and reaches 25 million people each year with proven programs to prevent and treat hunger. As a nonprofit that works in 50 countries, its 8,300 dedicated employees partner with communities to tackle the root causes of hunger, including climate change, conflict, inequality and emergencies. It strives to create a world free from hunger, for all, for good.