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Global Report on Food Crises: Joint Analysis for Better Decisions, September 2021 Update

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Why this update?

The annual Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) provides a consensus-based overview of the world’s food crises. It focuses on crises where the local capacities to respond are insufficient, prompting a request for the urgent mobilization of the international community, as well as countries/territories where there is ample evidence that the magnitude and severity of the food crisis exceed the local resources and capacities needed to respond effectively.
The 2021 edition reported the growing severity and magnitude of these crises with at least 155 million acutely food-insecure people in need of urgent assistance in 55 countries/territories in 2020 (Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) or equivalent).
This figure represented the highest number in the GRFC’s five-year existence, reflecting the compounding impacts of persistent conflict/insecurity, economic shocks, including those associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, and weather extremes.
The growing numbers also reflect wider data availability.
This September update of the GRFC 2021 highlights the number of people estimated to be in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) and the prevalence of these numbers within the analysed population by 10 September 2021. By this date, estimates referring to the situation in 2021 were available for 42 of the 55 countries/territories that qualified as food crises in 2020.1 This update includes the 2021 forecasts that were available by the time of publication of the GRFC 2021 on 5 May and an additional 18 food security analyses released before 10 September, of which 15 covered major crises.2 When two or more assessments are available for a particular country/ territory, the report highlights the period when the numbers were highest during 2021.3 According to the data available as of 10 September, there has been a considerable rise in the numbers of people in Crisis or worse (IPC/CH Phase 3 or above) since 2020, reaching around 161 million people in 42 countries/territories in 2021. This figure surpasses the already high 2020 figure, despite the absence of 2021 estimates for 13 countries/territories included in the GRFC 2021, notably for the Syrian Arab Republic, which was classified as one of the world’s largest food crises in 2020.4,5 This worsening situation reflects deepening humanitarian emergencies in some of the 10 largest food crises, notably the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Nigeria (16 states and Federal Capital Territory), Yemen and the Sudan. New data that became available since the release of the GRFC 2021 revealed a dire trend in growing numbers of people in Catastrophe (IPC/ CH Phase 5), with a total of 584 000 people across four countries – Ethiopia, Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen – facing starvation and death.
IPC and IPC-compatible analyses have also identified a Risk of Famine in a number of countries, including South Sudan,
Ethiopia, Madagascar, Nigeria (16 states and Federal Capital Territory) and Yemen. Several other countries included in this update witnessed alarming levels of populations in Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4) (see the Global Overview, pp. 5–8).
The table on pp. 10–12 provides three datasets: the highest numbers of acutely food-insecure people in both 2020 and 2021 for the 42 countries/territories with 2021 data; and the most recent numbers of acutely food-insecure people (where not the peak 2021 estimates).

Data sources

In keeping with the GRFC methodology developed for previous reports, the main sources for acute food insecurity data for this September update are the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) and the Cadre Harmonisé (CH). Populations in Crisis (IPC/CH Phase 3), Emergency (IPC/CH Phase 4) and Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5) are those in need of urgent food, nutrition and livelihood assistance. For IPC/CH Phase descriptions, see the table above.6 For countries where IPC/CH analyses were not conducted, acute food insecurity estimates were primarily derived from IPC-compatible analyses carried out by FEWS NET and from WFP analyses based on the CARI methodology.

Data challenges and limitations

All partners are in agreement with the general magnitude and severity of acute food insecurity for the countries included in this report, with the exception of countries where a disclaimer is present, namely, Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti and the Sudan. For these countries,
FEWS NET produced estimates that were lower than those provided by IPC Technical Working Groups, consequently FEWS NET obtains a different estimate of the trend in global needs between 2020 and 2021. These differences are the result of varying interpretations of the data exploring the factors that contribute to acute food insecurity.

Lack of data available for acute food insecurity in 2021

Data gaps remain a challenge and partners are concerned over countries/territories lacking consensus-based and comparable acute food insecurity analyses and estimates. Such gaps and lack of sufficient evidence highlight the imbalance in attention that different crises receive and the urgent need for donors and agencies to prioritize assessments and analysis.
By the cut-off date of 10 September 2021, data were not available for 13 of the 55 countries/territories in the GRFC 2021, including the Syrian Arab Republic, which contained the fourth largest acutely food-insecure population in need of urgent humanitarian assistance in 2020.