WFP is deeply concerned that the scourge of hunger and malnutrition is on the increase across the developing world, with now over a billion hungry people on the planet. The global economic downturn is exacerbating the impact of the food crisis and increasing food insecurity for the world's most vulnerable people, reversing progress toward the Millennium Development Goals. This threatens human well-being, peace and stability, and puts an entire generation at risk in many countries.
In 2008, the number of people in need of humanitarian assistance rose dramatically as a result of natural disasters, conflict and high food prices. At the beginning of the year, WFP's approved programmes were valued at $3.1 billion and, by the end of 2008, these requirements had increased to over $5.8 billion for the year. It was a huge challenge, but WFP, with the support of the donor community, rose to that challenge, providing support to 102 million vulnerable people.
Once again in 2009 we are seeing an historic level of need requiring increased WFP support. The vulnerable people that we serve are facing a triple crisis in the form of the three F's - the food, fuel and financial crises which are exacerbating the underlying and acute vulnerabilities caused by disasters, conflict and poverty in the countries where WFP works. The long term drivers of high prices such as climate change, scarcity of land and water, lack of investment in agriculture and fuel production as well as rising rates of food consumption due to population growth, seem poised to continue. Despite recent price reduction on international commodity markets, food prices remain relatively high as compared to historic averages, and high food prices persist in many poor countries.