Afghanistan + 2 more

On the brink: Food security crisis in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Yemen



The global hunger crisis has recently been deteriorating at a rapid rate. In 2021, over 811 million people were undernourished and food insecure - up 161 million from the previous year. Famine-like conditions remain a continued threat in over 43 countries around the world. This upsurge in food insecurity has been driven by a combination of factors including poverty, conflict and climate change, as well as the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic. In 2021, overlapping and compounding drivers came together to form the perfect conditions for the deteriorating crisis.

Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Yemen are some of the places where the food crisis is most acutely felt. A considerable proportion of the populations is facing acute food insecurity, with many unable to consume adequate food to maintain their lives and livelihoods. After repeated economic shocks, political crises, and a series of environmental disasters such as drought, more than 24 million people in Afghanistan require life-saving assistance to prevent famine. More than half of the population are in Integrated Food Security Phase 3 and above facing emergency food crises and famine in extreme cases.

The food security situation in all three countries has been made worse by humanitarian access barriers that are complicating efforts to provide life-saving humanitarian assistance to those most in need. Climate change and protracted conflicts undercut people’s resilience towards such crises. In addition, the recent and ongoing Russia-Ukraine conflict is also adding to the food security crisis, with huge spikes in the price of fuel and food as markets respond to conflict.

The world made some considerable progress in tackling global hunger in the first decade of the 21st century, but the current food security crisis threatens to reverse this. In addition to the above challenges, increasing levels of inequality are pushing another half a billion people into poverty. The pandemic has disrupted people’s livelihoods, adding to the deteriorating food security crisis. In 2019 there were 27 million people on the brink of famine, by April 2021 this had increased to 34 million.

The global food crisis exacerbates existing inequalities in society, with women and girls being hit hardest.
Women and girls account for 60 per cent of people globally who are food insecure, and make up the largest proportion of people in poverty. Additionally, there are underlying structural inequalities - such as lack of access of adequate employment, education etc. - that expose economically vulnerable households to significant risk, reducing their resilience and undercutting the ability to withstand food security crisis. People living with disabilities also face huge challenges accessing food and other necessities.

Episodes of food insecurity entrench societal inequalities for succeeding generations. For example, malnutrition affects young children’s physical growth and development for the rest of their lives. The crisis is made worse by humanitarian access challenges making it difficult to reach vulnerable people with emergency food distribution. Movement restrictions such as roadblocks, unsafe humanitarian corridors and blockades are presenting significant logistical and security challenges to delivering humanitarian aid in a timely and coordinated manner. These humanitarian access barriers also make it challenging to gain accurate data on the extent of food security needs.
Islamic Relief is working in many of the countries that are worst affected by the food security crisis, such as Afghanistan, Ethiopia, and Yemen, providing support to the most vulnerable and marginalised communities. This report will highlight the extent of the food security crisis in those three countries as well as the work Islamic Relief is undertaking to provide both immediate and long-term support to those most in need.