Logo of Phnom Penh Post newspaper Phnom Penh Post - UN: 40 million more people pushed into ‘acute food insecurity’ in 2021

UN: 40 million more people pushed into ‘acute food insecurity’ in 2021

Content image - Phnom Penh Post
The UN defines ‘acute food insecurity’ as when a person’s inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger. AFP

UN: 40 million more people pushed into ‘acute food insecurity’ in 2021

The number of people facing hunger rose to 193 million last year as conflict, climate change and economic crises ravaged people’s livelihoods, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation said on May 4.

While experts have warned that Russia’s war in Ukraine could cause famine, the FAO said in an annual report that nearly 40 million more people were pushed into “acute food insecurity” in 2021.

Among 53 countries facing the problem, the most affected include the Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Yemen and Afghanistan where millions face hunger after the country plunged into financial crisis following the Taliban takeover in 2021.

The United Nations defines “acute food insecurity” as when a person’s inability to consume adequate food puts their lives or livelihoods in immediate danger.

“This is hunger that threatens to slide into famine and cause widespread death,” the FAO said.

The number has risen constantly since the first report was published by the FAO, the World Food Programme and the EU in 2016.

The increase in 2021 has been “driven by a toxic triple combination of conflict, weather extremes and economic shocks”, with people affected in 53 countries, the FAO said.

Although the report does not take into account the conflict in Ukraine, the FAO said the war “stands to have the most devastating impacts on food crisis countries and on those on the brink of famine”.

Russia and Ukraine are major exporters of essential agricultural products, ranging from wheat and sunflower oil to fertiliser, and the FAO has previously said the conflict sent world food prices to an all-time high in March.

“The war has already highlighted the interconnected nature and fragility of global food systems,” the FAO said.

The agency noted that several countries battling major food crises obtained almost all of their wheat imports from Russia and Ukraine last year, including Somalia, the Democratic Republic of Congo and Madagascar.

The FAO warned that the “outlook moving forward is not good”.

“Today, if more is not done to support rural communities, the scale of the devastation in terms of hunger and lost livelihoods will be appalling,” the report said.

“Urgent humanitarian action is needed on a massive scale to prevent that from happening,” it said.

In 2021, conflict and insecurity was the main driver of acute hunger in 24 countries, affecting 139 million people. Economic “shocks”, worsened by the impact of Covid, hit 30.2 million people in 21 countries.

Extreme weather was the main driver of acute food insecurity for 23.5 million people in eight African countries.

The FAO said it needs $1.5 billion to stabilise and increase local food production in at-risk regions where planting season is starting.

“There is no time to waste,” it said as it meets on the issue on Wednesday.


  • Tensions high ahead of historic Kun Khmer match up

    The long-awaited November 5 matchup between Kun Khmer legend Prum Samnang and Myanmar-Canadian boxer Dave Leduc has become the most anticipated fight of the year. The Wurkz Sena Kun Khmer promotion, which will be held at the Town Arena at Chip Mong 271 Megamall, will see six

  • Manet: Cambodia safe for travel

    Prime Minister Hun Manet acknowledged that Cambodia and China have cooperated to tackle internet scamming, fraud and other cross border crimes, but insisted that the “Kingdom of Wonders” is completely peaceful and safe. He welcomed tourists to come and explore its rich heritage. During a

  • UNESCO formally list Battambang gastronomy

    Battambang, renowned for its cultural heritage, has achieved a significant milestone as the first Cambodian municipality to join the UNESCO Creative Cities Network (UCCN). The UCCN unites nearly 300 cities prioritising creativity and cultural industries in local development plans and international cooperation. On World Cities Day,

  • Cambodia pivots to solar, wind energy

    Cambodia is planning a move towards solar and wind energy to meet its rising power demands, according to Minister of Mines and Energy Keo Rottanak. On the sidelines of the Singapore International Energy Week event held recently, Rottanak emphasised the urgency of diversifying Cambodia’s

  • Angkor causeway symbol of Cambodia-Japan ties

    In a historic moment marking another milestone in the 70-year-long diplomatic relations between Cambodia and Japan, King Norodom Sihamoni celebrated the formal inauguration of a causeway located to the west of the world-renowned Angkor Wat. While presiding over the November 4 ceremony, the King emphasised the

  • Manet calls for Cambodia’s railways to get back on track

    Prime Minister Hun Manet has instructed the relevant authorities to expedite studies into upgrades to the Phnom Penh to Preah Sihanouk railway line. He suggested that the maximum speed on the line should be increased to 80km/h, in order to expedite the transportation of