45 Million People Across 43 Countries Are at Risk of Famine

A global food crisis brought on by the conflict in Ukraine brings new threats to children.

Skyrocketing wheat prices could put millions of children in the world's most fragile contexts, such as YemenLebanon, and Syria, at risk of illness or even death due to hunger. In places like South Sudan and the Sahel, the ongoing conflict has hindered access to food for years. In Kenya, 3.5 million people are suffering extreme hunger. Nearly half a million people across parts of Somalia and Ethiopia are facing famine-like conditions. 

COVID-19 is adding to the impacts of conflict and climate change to push millions of children across the world to the verge of starvation. There’s no vaccine for hunger, but there is a solution if we act now. 

What Is Causing the World Hunger Crisis?

Hunger and malnutrition are devastating for children. Save the Children works in the hardest-to-reach places to address the root causes of hunger to ensure the most vulnerable grow up heathy and nourished.
 
A 9-year old girl sits with her baby sister who eats a food supplement on the floor of a home in DRC.

Every day, 9-year old Michelle* takes her baby sister to the health center in the Kasai region of the Democratic Republic of Congo to receive food supplements. Both sisters only eat once a day. 

  • A persistent lack of access to nutritious food
  • Conflict and insecurity
  • A dramatic increase in food prices
  • A changing climate, extreme weather events and recent invasions of desert locusts
  • COVID-19 and its secondary impacts, including lockdowns, school closures and economic recession
  • Gender inequality
A child stands amongst the rubble in North West Syria A child stands amongst rubble after fleeing a fire caused by a volcano. A child from India looks at the camera wearing a mask for COVID-19 prevention

The Triple Threat Affecting World Hunger

Conflict

How does conflict impact world hunger?

Conflict forces families from their homes, land and jobs. Today, 82.4M people have been displaced from their homes. Unable to find work, many families struggle to afford food for their children.

Conflict reduces access to food sources and significantly increases food prices. Armed violence and conflict-related instability destroy economies and disrupt agricultural production. Ten of the world's 13 worst food crises are driven by conflict.

As conflict and hunger intensify, children will be most affected. Children living in a conflict zone are over two times more likely to suffer from malnutrition compared to children living in a peaceful setting.

Climate

How does climate impact world hunger?

As temperatures rise, crop production becomes more difficult. Large numbers of people in some of the world's poorest regions depend on agriculture for their livelihood. Floods and droughts, which will continue to worsen due to climate change, can destroy crops and leave kids and families struggling for food.

Climate change is leaving families with less access to clean water to grow food One-quarter of the world's population - 1.8 billion people - live in water-stressed areas. This number is expected to grow to half the world's population by 2030.

Climate change can worsen the nutritional value of food. Recent studies show that higher carbon dioxide concentrations reduce the protein, zinc, and iron content of crops. By 2050 an additional 175M people could be deficient in zinc and an additional 112M people could experience protein deficiencies due to carbon dioxide rates caused by climate change. 

COVID-19

How does COVID-19 impact world hunger?

Access to food supplies and humanitarian relief is getting harder and harder. COVID-19's impact on food supply chains and humanitarian access is estimated to double the number of severely hungry people to 272M. This number is expected to rise as the pandemic continues to seriously affect global food systems.

Parents have lost their jobs and are struggling to afford food for their kids. Millions of people have lost their jobs due to the impact of COVID-19. Losses of income are expected to reach over $220B in poorer countries, meaning parents won't be able to provide food for their children.

School closures have had a huge impact on children's access to enough food. 370M children worldwide have missed 40% of in-school meals, on average, since COVID-19 restrictions caused disruption to their schooling.

How is the War in Ukraine Impacting Child Hunger?

Fighting and sanctions have disrupted grain shipments from Russia and Ukraine. As a result, wheat prices have skyrocketed.

Russia and Ukraine account for a significant amount of the world's wheat supply, together exporting more than a quarter of the world's wheat in 2019. 

The current violence is set to cause a sharp rise in global grain prices, with wheat predicted to rise up to 50% in some countries.

This means millions of children in the world's most fragile contexts, such as Sudan, Syria, and Yemen, are at risk of illness or even death due to hunger. 

More than 80% Sudan’s wheat imports are at risk as a result of the conflict in Ukraine, exacerbating an already dire economic and humanitarian crisis.

Bread is a staple food in Sudan, particularly in populated urban areas. The hike in wheat prices is likely to increase demand for other staple foods consumed in rural areas, such as sorghum, also driving up those prices. 

Sudan is already in the grips of a protracted economic crisis, which has seen inflation rise to one of the highest levels in the world.

In Yemen, where wheat and bread make up over half of the calorie intake for the average household, 95% of wheat is imported, including more than 30% from Russia and Ukraine.

Food prices in the country have more than doubled in the past couple of years, with families forced to reduce food portions or skip meals completely.

As a result, 8 million children in Yemen are already on the brink of famine.

You Can Help Fight Child Hunger Around the World

Food insecurity and risk of potential famine in many countries is having a deep impact on children’s lives. Millions of hungry and malnourished children are in urgent need of your support. 

As a global leader for children during the COVID-19 crisis, our number one goal is fighting threats to child survival, like lack of nutritious food. But we can't do this important work without you. 

Help us fight child hunger so that all children everywhere can survive and thrive.

Welcome!

We’ll be in touch! By signing up to receive emails from Save the Children you will receive a subscription to our monthly eNews, access to breaking emergency alerts and opportunities to get involved. To ensure delivery of Save the Children emails to your inbox, add support@savechildren.org to your contact list.

By providing my mobile phone number, I agree to receive recurring text messages from Save the Children (48188) and phone calls with opportunities to donate and ways to engage in our mission to support children around the world. Text STOP to opt-out, HELP for info. Message & data rates may apply. View our Privacy Policy at savethechildren.org/privacy.