World faces major food crisis: Which countries are struggling the most?

The Global Report on Food Crises suggests that situation in 2022 is expected to get worse as compared to 2021. The ongoing war in Ukraine will most likely aggravate food insecurity that the world is experiencing this year

Food crises reached a new height in 2021. AFP

The Global Report on Food Crises, 2022 by World Food Programme revealed that levels of hunger all across the world remain alarmingly high. The year 2021 broke all previous records since close to 193 million people across 53 countries were acutely food insecure.

What’s the cause?

The broad reasons that are attributed to the exponential rise of food crisis involve worsening effects of acute food insecurity and an expansion of population between 2020 and 2021.

The report suggests that situation in 2022 is expected to get worse as compared to 2021. The ongoing war in Ukraine will most likely aggravate food insecurity that the world is experiencing this year.

UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres said, “There is a real risk that multiple famines will be declared in 2022.” He added that the war in Ukraine has only made things worse. Harvests across Asia, Africa and the Americas have hit farmers severely as they struggle to cope with rising prices of fertilisers and energy, he noted.

To mitigate the crisis, G7 along with the World bank has committed to pour in $4.5 billion. According to a Business Standard report, US will contribute half of this sum to fund regional organisations in over 47 countries.

Russia’s invasion made situation worse

As inflation continues to grow across the globe, many countries have been experiencing high food prices. World Bank’s Commodity Markets Outlook report of 2022 suggests that as of June 2022, the global agricultural price index has risen up to 14 per cent as compared to January 2022.

This has seriously impacted people from low- and middle-income countries as they spend most of their income on food, according to a NewsOnAir report. Trade and supply disruptions have also contributed to the food crisis.

As people from under-developed nations still cope from the COVID-19 pandemic, governments are left with little money to provide any kind of assistance. Add to this, the Ukraine war. The invasion has disrupted grain exports since both the countries are the biggest grain supplier. Their exports account for 24 per cent of wheat supply by trade value.

As the war has damaged most of the rail infrastructure in Ukraine supply chains have been disrupted due to which Ukraine is unable to export its grain. Russian blockades in the Black Sea have also hindered export.

These disruptions had consequences especially on countries like Egypt who relied Russia and Ukraine for half of their wheat imports. Egypt has struck a deal with India to replace 80 per cent of its wheat imports that used to come from Russia and Ukraine, according to a Times of India report.

According to a data released by the International Food Policy Research Institute, blockage of exports could impact as much as 17 per cent globally traded calories in 2022.

Rise in fertilizer prices, which has also been triggered by the war, is more concerning as it could stall food production in the rest of the world, said the chief economist for the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation.

Countries that are hit the most

Sri Lanka

The country is going through its worst economic crisis since its independence. The crisis has left Sri Lankans struggling to pay for food. About 70 per cent of households are cutting down their food consumption, according to a UNICEF survey. Months of protest against former Sri Lankan prime minister Mahinda Rajapaksa that culminated in his resignation hasn’t been able to minimise the effect of economic crisis in the country. Ranil Wickremesinghe, the current prime minister, recently announced that the Sri Lankan economy has “collapsed”. The country is now hoping to get help from the World Bank to pay for essential imports.

World faces major food crisis Whats the cause Which countries are most hit

About 70 per cent of households in Sri Lanka are cutting down their food consumption. AP

Afghanistan

The World Food Programme said that nine out 10 people in Afghanistan do not have enough food to eat. WFP’s Country Director for Afghanistan, Mary-Ellen McGroarty said, “numerous families throughout the country are struggling to put food on the table each day.”

With the Taliban’s takeover last year topped with the recent earthquake that devasted the country, 18.9 million Afghans are currently facing acute food insecurity. The report also said, “4.7 million children, pregnant and lactating women at risk of acute malnutrition in 2022; 3.9 million children are acutely malnourished.”

Egypt

A shortage in vegetable oil has triggered a food supply crisis in Egypt. Nearly half a million Egyptians have been ration card system that provides bread and vegetable oils in subsidised rates. The country’s Ministry of Supply and Internal Trade said that the move was taken as there is a lack of food supplies in Egypt. According to a report by Al-Monitor the vegetable oil crisis is the result of the Ukraine war.

Ethiopia

The Food Price Index in Ethiopia has increased by 43 per cent, according to WFP. Reasons range from conflict to drought that has resulted in an increase of prices for vegetable oil and cereals by over 89 per cent and 37 per cent respectively. Nineteen months of the Tigray war, has left 13 million people helpless and foodless.

South Sudan

Since its independence in 2011, people in the country have never really been able to feed themselves, according to a report in The Guardian.

As per an Oxfam report, a power crisis that erupted in the country in 2013 has pushed the country into an economic crisis, leaving most people hungry.

Yemen

The conflict between government forces and Houthi rebels has led the country to face the worst humanitarian crisis. According to an Indian Express report, 19 million people are in dire need for food assistance in 2022. WFP has projected further cuts of food aid in Yemen that will leave millions of people with little or no food with them.

With inputs from agencies

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