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Why is the world hungrier than ever?

Luis Angel Espinosa García - Cuba

This seismic hunger crisis has been caused by a deadly combination of factors.

Conflict is still the biggest driver of hunger, with 70 percent of the world’s hungry people living in areas afflicted by war and violence. Events in Ukraine are further proof of how conflict feeds hunger – forcing people out of their homes, wiping out their sources of income, and wrecking countries’ economies.

The climate crisis is one of the leading causes of the steep rise in global hunger. Climate shocks destroy lives, crops, and livelihoods, and undermine people’s ability to feed themselves. Hunger will spiral out of control if the world fails to take immediate climate action.

Global fertilizer prices have climbed even faster than food prices, which remain at a ten-year high themselves. The effects of the war in Ukraine, including higher natural gas prices, have further disrupted global fertilizer production and exports – reducing supplies, raising prices, and threatening to reduce harvests. High fertilizer prices could turn the current food affordability crisis into a food availability crisis, with the production of maize, rice, soybean, and wheat all falling in 2022.

Costs are also at an all-time high: WFP’s monthly operating costs are US$73.6 million above their 2019 average – a staggering 44 percent rise. The extra now spent on operating costs would have previously fed 4 million people for one month. In countries including Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen, WFP is already faced with hard decisions, including cutting rations to be able to reach more people. This is tantamount to taking from the hungry to feed the starving.

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