GRFC 2020 in brief
The data and the analyses in this report were prepared before the global crisis of the COVID-19 pandemic and do not account for its impact on vulnerable people in food-crisis situations.
The Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) 2020 is the result of a joint, consensus-based assessment of acute food insecurity situations around the world by 16 partner organizations.
At 135 million, the number of people in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) in 2019 was the highest in the four years of the GRFC's existence. This increase also reflected the inclusion of additional countries and areas within some countries.
When comparing the 50 countries that were in both the 2019 and the 2020 reports, the population in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) rose from 112 to 123 million. This reflected worsening acute food insecurity in key conflict-driven crises, notably the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan and the growing severity of drought and economic shocks as drivers in countries such as Haiti, Pakistan and Zimbabwe.
Around 183 million people in 47 countries were classified in Stressed (IPC/CH Phase 2) conditions, at risk of slipping into Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) if confronted by an additional shock or stressor.
An estimated 75 million stunted children were living in the 55 food-crisis countries analysed. These children have limited access to sufficient dietary energy, nutritionally diverse diets, clean drinking water, sanitation and health care, which weakens their health and nutrition status, with dire consequences for their development and long-term productivity.
Drivers of acute food insecurity
Conflict/insecurity was still the main driver of food crises in 2019, but weather extremes and economic shocks became increasingly significant. Over half of the 77 million acutely foodinsecure people in countries where conflict was identified as the primary driver were in the Middle East and Asia. Regional crises continued to see high levels of acute food insecurity, particularly in the Lake Chad Basin and Central Sahel.
Africa had the largest numbers of acutely food-insecure people in need of assistance in countries badly affected by weather events, particularly in the Horn of Africa and Southern Africa, followed by Central America and Pakistan.
In East Africa, armed conflicts, intercommunal violence and other localized tensions continued to affect peace and security, particularly in South Sudan, and continued to maintain large refugee populations in neighbouring countries, such as Uganda.
The report reflects the growing influence of economic crises on acute food insecurity levels, particularly in the Bolivarian Republic of Venezuela, Zimbabwe, Haiti and the Sudan.
An estimated 79 million people remained displaced globally as of mid-2019 – 44 million of them internally displaced and 20 million were refugees under UNHCR’s mandate. More than half of these refugees were hosted in countries with high numbers of acutely food-insecure people. In countries where funding constraints have reduced assistance in refugee camps, refugees’ food security was severely threatened.
-Short-term outlook for 2020*
The acute food insecurity forecasts for 2020 were produced before COVID-19 became a pandemic and do not account for its likely impact in food crisis countries.
The combined effects of conflict, macroeconomic crisis, climaterelated shocks and crop pests, including fall armyworm and desert locusts, were likely to ensure that Yemen remained the world's worst food crisis.
In East Africa, abundant seasonal rains benefitted crops and rangelands, but fostered a severe desert locust outbreak that will likely aggravate acute food insecurity in complex and fragile contexts.
Protracted conflicts will either maintain or increase acute food insecurity levels in parts of Central Africa. In Southern Africa, post-harvest improvements are likely to be short-lived as poor rains, high food prices and unresolved political and economic instability could worsen acute food insecurity levels. Increasing violence, displacements and disrupted agriculture and trade in tandem with adverse climate in West Africa and Sahel countries will worsen acute food insecurity conditions in many areas.
Violent conflict and currency depreciation will drive alarming rates of acute food insecurity and acute malnutrition levels across the most troubled areas of the Middle East and Asia.
In Latin America and the Caribbean, sociopolitical crises, weather extremes, lack of employment and high food prices are likely to lead to deteriorating acute food insecurity in some countries.
The drivers of food crises, as well as lack of access to dietary energy and diversity, safe water, sanitation and health care will continue to create high levels of child malnutrition, while COVID-19 is likely to overburden health systems.
The pandemic may well devastate livelihoods and food security, especially in fragile contexts and particularly for the most vulnerable people working in the informal agricultural and nonagricultural sectors. A global recession will majorly disrupt food supply chains.