Climate change is also driving the growth in hunger and in many cases – 14 out of 34 recent food crises – conflict and climate change occur together, compounding the impacts that both have on driving hunger.
The number of chronically undernourished people in the world is estimated to have increased to nearly 821 million people - five million more than in 2017, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation’s latest annual food security report.
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2018 report also states that 492 million people are in need of urgent humanitarian aid, and confirms global violence and conflict as one of the leading causes of the rise in global hunger, which has returned to a level last seen a decade ago.
Juliet Parker, director of operations at Action Against Hunger, explained: "Six out of ten hungry people live in a conflict affected country. Climate change is also driving the growth in hunger and in many cases – 14 out of 34 recent food crises – conflict and climate change occur together, compounding the impacts that both have on driving hunger”.
Weapon of war
Parker continued: "There has been a marked growth in the use of hunger as a weapon of war via the systematic siege of civilians, attacks on basic water and livelihood infrastructures, and the blocking of humanitarian aid. There is also an upward trend in conflicts.
“Wars destroy markets and livelihoods and produce huge population displacements that in turn trigger an increased risk of acute malnutrition. Food insecurity and competition for natural resources or food are also a major cause of the 46 active conflicts currently in the world today.
“Resolution 2417, adopted by the United Nations Security Council in May 2018, recognised the close links between war and hunger, and Action Against Hunger’s experience of nutritional interventions in more than 45 countries has given us abundant evidence of this.
"We call for the urgent development of measures to implement this resolution on the ground, in order to avoid the use of hunger as a weapon of war and to guarantee direct access to victims of humanitarian aid.
"We also need to see governments around the world commit to going well beyond the demands of the resolution, and to support agricultural systems that are sensitive to conflict and climate change, and to insure that our own security responses to conflict do not exacerbate tensions between groups.
“One further key measure we are calling for is a tripling of investment into the prevention and treatment of acute malnutrition which is estimated to affect 50 million children – one in twelve – within six years.”
Marianne Brooker is a contributing editor for The Ecologist. This story was based on a press release from Action Against Hunger.