49 Million People Across 46 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. In Somalia, up to 1.5 million children could be facing severe acute malnutrition by October.

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. 

Save the Children is a global leader working in the U.S. and around the world to help children and their communities prevent, prepare for and recover from climate-induced disasters. Your donation to the Children's Emergency Fund supports this life-saving work. Join our political advicacy arm - Save the Children Action Network - and send a message to Congress to to strengthen and protect SNAP and support the global Food for Peace programs.

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

The Combined Impact of Conflict, Climate Change, COVID and Cost

The fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic and the conflict in Ukraine has added to the increasingly devastating impacts of climate change and widespread conflict.

How Are Women and Girls Impacted by the Hunger Crisis?

In the Philippines, a young girl smiles while leaning against the frame of a doorway.

Women and girls are most impacted by hunger and malnutrition. They often eat last and eat least, despite playing a pivotal role in securing food for their households and communities. 

Girls living in West and Central Africa – a region affected by conflict and climate emergencies, which lead to poverty and food shortages – have the world's highest rates of child marriage.

"Humanitarian crises – be they climate disasters, pandemics, or the ongoing global food crisis – lead to many of the same risks that drive child marriage, like increased poverty and a stripping away of protective systems that should be in place to keep girls safe from violence," said Inger Ashing, CEO of Save the Children International.

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.

Refugees from Ukarine receive support after crossing the border to flee conflict.

Russia and Ukraine account for a quarter of the world's wheat and half of its sunflower products, like cooking oil. Several African and Middle East countries rely heavily on these exports. In the Horn of Africa, 90% of wheat imported comes from Ukraine and Russia.

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, which only risks pushing global hunger levels even higher.

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 extreme hunger. 

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.

Afghanistan is a country trying to transition out of decades of war but is now in the grip of an economic crisis, which is pushing millions to the brink of famine.

The economic collapse is compounding an already dire food security situation in the country as a result of conflict, protracted drought and the COVID-19 pandemic.


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