Globally, NGOs are sounding the alarm as the world is moving rapidly towards some of the most catastrophic food crises in the 21st century. The Canadian Foodgrains Bank is also raising its voice at this extremely urgent hour.
"We are seeing a global hunger crisis," said Stefan Epp-Koop, program manager of the humanitarian early recovery and development (HERD) program with the Canadian Foodgrains Bank. "The situation is getting worse all the time."
The 2021 Global Report on Food Crises, which focuses on acute hunger, was released on May 4, 2022, and highlights many sobering facts:
- In 2021, 193 million people in 53 countries are acutely food insecure and in need of urgent assistance (up from 40 million in 2020).
- 40 million people in 36 countries are facing emergency famine conditions.
- Over half a million people will likely face a catastrophic famine – starvation and death – in Yemen, Madagascar, Ethiopia, South Sudan and Somalia.
Executive director Andy Harrington says the Foodgrains Bank’s members are working with partners in each one of these countries and he’s gravely concerned.
"A lot is going on in the world that is contributing to that now," said Epp-Koop. "There are weather events that are increasingly severe and more frequent. There is conflict, and then we're also seeing rising food prices."
Stefan recently travelled to Turkana county in Kenya, where 70 percent of the population is at risk of severe hunger due to a multi-year drought. Yet, he believes there is hope amid this situation.
"It can be challenging to see the hope, but I think that some of that hope for me comes from getting to see the work of our local partner in Turkana," said Epp-Koop. "They have been doing a variety of things to meet the immediate needs of people while also helping to build that long-term resilience."
“Despite the severe problems they are facing, people in Turkana told me how they’ve been able to feed their families as a result of participating in kitchen gardens and even growing enough produce to sell at markets," said Harrington.
Many Canadians may wonder why the number of people facing hunger is increasing at such an alarming rate. Stefan emphasizes there is enough food in the world to feed every person. “What we are dealing with is an issue of access,” he said. “Conflict and closed borders mean that food supply chains break down and people suffer and sometimes have to flee, especially those who are in marginal situations.”
With catastrophic climate emergencies becoming ever more frequent, small-scale food producers struggle to grow enough.
“And as food prices are skyrocketing, people who didn’t have enough money to buy food before, are accessing even less now,” he adds. “It’s a cascading crisis that will only get worse if we don't act, but these issues are ones that the world can address if we all work together.”
Today on Connections, Stefan shares how bad the situation is and ways we can prevent the food crisis from worsening. He will also talk about how we can pray and help those in need.