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International Partnerships
News announcement24 April 2024RomeDirectorate-General for International Partnerships4 min read

Acute hunger remains persistently high in 59 countries with 1 in 5 people assessed in need of critical urgent action


According to the latest Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC), nearly 282 million people in 59 countries and territories experienced high levels of acute hunger in 2023 - a worldwide increase of 24 million from the previous year. This rise was due to the report’s increased coverage of food crisis contexts as well as a sharp deterioration in food security, especially in the Gaza Strip and Sudan.

Since 2020, the proportion of people facing acute food insecurity has remained persistently high at almost 22 percent of those assessed, significantly exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels.

Children and women are at the forefront of these hunger crises, with over 36 million children under 5 years of age acutely malnourished across 32 countries, the report shows. Acute malnutrition worsened in 2023, particularly among people displaced because of conflict and disasters.

The Global Network Against Food Crises urgently calls for a transformative approach that integrates peace, prevention and development action alongside at-scale emergency efforts to break the cycle of acute hunger which remains at stubbornly high levels.

Commissioner for International Partnerships Jutta Urpilainen said: “The EU is fighting hunger with a spectrum of interventions, from crisis response to long-term resilience-building efforts. Our long-term approach, which we implement under Global Gateway investment strategy, focuses on resource efficiency, market support, and infrastructural development.”

"This crisis demands an urgent response. Using the data in this report to transform food systems and address the underlying causes of food insecurity and malnutrition will be vital," said António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.

Protracted hunger

Thirty-six countries have been consistently featured in the GRFC analyses since 2016, representing 80 percent of the world’s most hungry in 2023.  

There has also been an increase of 1 million people facing Emergency levels of food insecurity across 39 countries and territories, with the biggest increase in Sudan.

The risk of starvation is threatening more than 705,000 people – the highest number in the GRFC’s reporting history and up fourfold since 2016. The current situation in Gaza accounts for 80 percent of those facing imminent famine, along with South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Somalia and Mali.

According to the recent GRFC 2024 outlook, around 1.1 million people in Gaza and 79 000 people in South Sudan are projected to be in Catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5) by July 2024, bringing the total amount of people projected in this phase to almost 1.3 million.

Key drivers of food crises

Intensifying conflict and insecurity, the impacts of economic shocks, and the effects of extreme weather events are continuing to drive acute food insecurity. These interlinked drivers are exacerbating food systems fragility, rural marginalization, poor governance, and inequality, and lead to massive displacement of populations globally.

Conflict remained the primary driver affecting 20 countries with nearly 135 million people in acute food insecurity – almost half of the global number. Sudan faced the largest deterioration due to conflict, with 8.6 million more people facing high levels of acute food insecurity as compared with 2022.

Extreme weather events were the primary driver in 18 countries where over 77 million people faced high levels of acute food insecurity, up from 12 countries with 57 million in 2022. In 2023, the world experienced its hottest year on record and climate related shocks impacted populations, with episodes of severe floods, storms, droughts, wildfires, and pest and disease outbreaks.

Economic shocks primarily affected 21 countries where around 75 million people were facing high levels of acute food insecurity, due to their high dependency on imports of food and agricultural inputs, persisting macroeconomic challenges, including currency depreciation, high prices and high debt levels.

Breaking the cycle of food crises

Besides peace and prevention, tackling persistent food crises requires urgent long-term national and international investment to transform food systems and boost agricultural and rural development alongside greater crisis preparedness and critical lifesaving assistance at scale, where people need it most.  Without this, people will continue to face a lifetime of hunger and the most vulnerable will starve. 

Today, needs already outpace available resources. Humanitarian operations are desperately overstretched, with many being forced to scale-down and further cut support to the most vulnerable.  More equitable and effective global economic governance is imperative and must be matched with government led plans that seek to reduce and end hunger.

To turn the tide on rising acute food insecurity the international community has made a range of bold commitments such as the recent G7 Global Alliance for Food Security, the upcoming Apulia Food Security Initiative and the forthcoming G20 Global Alliance Against Hunger and Poverty. The Global Network Against Food Crises will leverage its unparalleled knowledge of hunger in the most fragile countries to strengthen the linkages and build coherence between these global initiatives to ensure innovative and concrete impact for those affected by food crises.

About the Global Report on Food Crises

The Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) is produced annually by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) and launched by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) – a multistakeholder initiative that includes United Nations organizations, the European Union, the United States Agency for International Development, and non-governmental agencies working together to tackle food crises.

Note to Editors:

Acute food insecurity is when a person's inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger. It draws on internationally accepted measures of acute hunger, such as the IPC Integrated Food Security Phase Classification System which indicates five phases of Acute Food Insecurity as: 1) Minimal, 2) Stressed, 3) Crisis, 4) Emergency, and 5) Catastrophe when Famine may be declared.

A food crisis is as a situation where acute food insecurity requires urgent action to protect and save lives and livelihoods at local or national levels and exceeds the local resources and capacities to respond. A food crisis is defined as 'major' if more than 1 million people or more than 20 percent of its total county population is estimated to be facing Phase 3 Crisis or above, or if at least one area is classified in Phase 4 Emergency or above.


Publication date
24 April 2024
Directorate-General for International Partnerships