World Food Day: UAE minister calls for urgent response as another year of record global hunger looms

Several crises push number of hungry people around the globe to 345 million


A Staff Reporter

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Top Stories

Published: Sat 15 Oct 2022, 1:45 PM

Last updated: Sat 15 Oct 2022, 6:02 PM

The world is at risk of yet another year of record hunger as the global food crisis continues to drive yet more people into worsening levels of acute food insecurity, warns the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) in call for urgent action to address the root causes of today’s crisis ahead of World Food Day, on October 16.

The global food crisis is a confluence of competing crises – caused by climate shocks, conflict, and economic pressures – that has pushed the number of hungry people around the world from 282 million to 345 million in just the first months of 2022. The WFP scaled up food assistance targets to reach a record 153 million people in 2022, and by mid-year, had already delivered assistance to 111.2 million people.

“We are facing an unprecedented global food crisis and all signs suggest we have not yet seen the worst. For the last three years hunger numbers have repeatedly hit new peaks. Let me be clear: things can and will get worse unless there is a large-scale and coordinated effort to address the root causes of this crisis. We cannot have another year of record hunger,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The crises and challenges facing our world today put the health and lives of millions of people at stake without distinguishing between developed and developing countries. What we are witnessing is an accelerating aggravation of the consequences of climate change, conflict and unrest in many regions, which has directly affected the availability of food and the resilience and continuity of supply chains, threatening everyone with the impact of food insecurity.”

She added: “This situation calls for all of us to join forces and fast-track our efforts to enhance food security and availability through initiatives and programs that take into account the requirements of environmental and climate action at the same time.” She noted that on a local level, the UAE has adopted the National Food Security Strategy that aims to strengthen the country’s food security. Globally, in addition to helping many countries address hunger and food scarcity, it launched the Agriculture Innovation Mission for Climate (AIM for Climate) in partnership with the US, which aims to raise investments worth US$8 billion in sustainable and climate-smart agrifood systems based on modern technologies.

The WFP and humanitarian partners are holding back famine in five countries – Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. Too often it is conflict that drives the most vulnerable into catastrophic hunger, with communications disrupted, humanitarian access restricted, and communities displaced. The conflict in Ukraine has also disrupted global trade pushing up transport costs and lead times while leaving farmers lacking access to the agricultural inputs they need. The knock-on effect on upcoming harvests will reverberate around the world.

Climate shocks are increasing in frequency and intensity, leaving those affected no time to recover between disasters. The Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region in particular is one of the worst-hit by the climate crisis as it is highly susceptible to climate shocks and stressors such as prolonged heatwaves, drought, wildfires, flooding, erratic rainfall, and landslides. The MENA region is also warming at twice the global average exacerbating pressure on resources in the food systems cycle affecting approximately 40 million people in the region.

Mageed Yahia, WFP Representative to the GCC said: “We are working closely with our strategic partners in the GCC, who thanks to their support we managed to avert famine in Yemen and continues to provide lifesaving assistance. We count on their continued support especially during this year of unprecedented needs to alleviate the sufferings of millions of people who are bearing the brunt of the impact of conflicts and climate shocks in different parts of the world.”

Anticipatory action must be at the core of the humanitarian response to protect the most vulnerable from these shocks – and a core part of the agenda at the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP27) next month in Egypt. Meanwhile, governments’ ability to respond is constrained by their own economic woes – currency depreciation, inflation, debt distress – as the threat of global recession also mounts. This will see an increasing number of people unable to afford food and needing humanitarian support to meet their basic needs.

The WFP’s operational plan for 2022 is the agency’s most ambitious ever. It prioritises action to prevent millions of people from dying of hunger while working to stabilise – and, where possible, build – resilient national food systems and supply chains.

With the cost of delivering assistance rising and lead times increasing, the WFP continues to diversify its supplier base, including boosting local and regional procurement: so far in 2022, 47 per cent of the food WFP has purchased is from countries where we operate – a value of US$ 1.2 billion. WFP has also expanded the use of cash-based transfers to deliver food assistance in the most efficient and cost-effective way in the face of these rising costs. Cash transfers now represent 35 percent of our emergency food assistance.

The WFP has secured $655 million in contributions and service provision agreements from international financial institutions to support national social protection systems. Similar efforts are underway to expand innovative climate financing partnerships. WFP continues to support governments with supply chain services, such as the procurement and transport of food commodities to replenish national grain reserves to support national safety net programmes.

While these efforts provide succour to some of the severely vulnerable, it is against a challenging global backdrop in which the number of acutely hungry people continues to increase requiring a concerted global action for peace, economic stability and continued humanitarian support to ensure food security around the world.


More news from