The World Faces Increased Hunger Due To The Climate Crisis

The world faces an exponential increase in hunger triggered by the climate crisis if global action to help people adapt to climate shocks and stresses is not taken immediately, the United Nations World Food Program (WFP) warns ahead of World Food Day.

WFP analysis shows that an average 2°C rise in global temperatures from pre-industrial levels would trap 189 million people in famine, the AP news agency reported.

Vulnerable communities, which depend largely on agriculture, fisheries and livestock and who contribute the least to the climate crisis, will continue to bear the brunt of these impacts while they have limited means to mitigate those burdens.

The WFP says tens of thousands of lives are at risk in southern Madagascar, one of many places in the world today where conditions such as famine are being caused by climate change. Successive droughts have plunged nearly 1.1 million people into severe hunger.

Nearly 14,000 of them are starving and this number is expected to double by the end of the year. Up to 63 percent of people in the south of the country are sharecroppers whose livelihoods have been lost, and their only source of food has been lost to drought.

WFP says that when combined with conflict, the climate crisis exacerbates the vulnerability they suffer, magnifying damage, destruction and despair. Extreme climate events in conflict-affected areas destroy already scarce resources for families and even hinder humanitarian efforts to reach communities. In Afghanistan, a severe conflict-related drought and economic hardship has left a third of the population starving, according to WFP.

An Ethiopian refugee fleeing the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region, walks past the tents of the world food program, at Um-Rakoba camp, on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, Al-Qadarif state, Sudan, November 23, 2020. (REUTERS)

An Ethiopian refugee fleeing the ongoing fighting in the Tigray region, walks past the tents of the world food program, at Um-Rakoba camp, on the Sudan-Ethiopia border, Al-Qadarif state, Sudan, November 23, 2020. (REUTERS)

Gernot Laganda, Head of WFP’s Climate and Disaster Risk Reduction Programme, said, by 2020, there will be 30 million people displaced in their own countries due to climate extremes, and by 2050 he estimates this number will increase to 216 million, which is about seven times fold. The climate threatens their ability to grow food, generate income and cope with burdens.

WFP has supported 39 governments, helping governments realize their national climate ambitions. By 2020, WFP is implementing climate risk management solutions in 28 countries, benefiting more than six million people so that they are better prepared to deal with climate shocks and stresses and can recover more quickly.

WFP has mobilized nearly $300 million for climate action in the last decade. In Bangladesh, WFP supports communities affected by heavy monsoons and floods with pre-disaster cash assistance so they can buy food and medicine, protect important assets, and transport livestock and families to safety.

By using early warning data to trigger action, WFP says they are empowering households to prepare for the effects of flooding and prevent loss and damage, reducing emergency response costs by more than half.

Working with its partners, WFP has protected 1.5 million people in Mali, Mauritania, Burkina Faso, Zimbabwe and Gambia from drought with climate risk insurance, through the Africa Risk Capacity Replication Initiative. [my/jm]

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