The number of people on the edge of famine has almost doubled since the start of the pandemic, the UN World Food Programme said.

The United Nations World Food Programme(WFP) has warned that three million more are now “teetering on the edge of famine” in 43 countries worldwide.

By underlining the acute hunger spiking around the world, the WFP said on November 8 that the number of people inching towards famine rose to 45 million, and that three more million have been added to the tally in just a year. 

In 2019, the number of people on the brink of famine was 27 million. As the pandemic came, the number increased, exacerbating the crisis. 

“Tens of millions of people are staring into an abyss. We’ve got conflict, climate change and COVID-19 driving up the numbers of the acutely hungry, and the latest data show there are now more than 45 million people marching towards the brink of starvation,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.

“Fuel costs are up, food prices are soaring, fertilizer is more expensive, and all of this feeds into new crises like the one unfolding now in Afghanistan, as well as long-standing emergencies like Yemen and Syria,” Beasley added.

The agency bases the increase on the Afghan people living within the official hunger classification alongside other increases in Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, Angola, Kenya, and Burundi.

The WFP and its humanitarian partners have been ramping up efforts to assist millions of people facing starvation. However, the needs to ease famine are vastly more than available resources at a time when traditional funding streams are overstretched.

Approximately $ 7 billion is needed to avert global famine as this cost was $ 6.6 billion earlier in the year.

“As the cost of humanitarian assistance rises exponentially, we need more funds to reach families across the globe who have already exhausted their capacity to cope with extreme hunger,” the WFP chief said in the statement.

Many families, who suffer from famine, are forced to make devastating choices to cope with rising hunger, such as eating less, skipping meals entirely, being forced to eat locusts, wild leaves, or cactus to survive Madagascar.

Madagascar is the only place in the world where climate change, not conflict, has caused  “famine-like conditions," affecting the health of hundreds of thousands of people, according to the UN World Food Programme (WFP).

More than 1.14 million people in the island country located in East Africa need urgent food and nutrition assistance. 

After four years without rain, the level of hunger and food insecurity reached “catastrophic” levels.

In other areas, some families are forced to marry off their children because of extreme poverty as some Afghan families reportedly sell their children in a desperate attempt to survive, according to some media reports.

According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization's Food Price Index, food prices hit a ten-year high in November.

In addition to this, high fuel prices, which also increase transportation costs, have caused a disruption in global supply chains. For instance, the shipping cost of a container was  $1,000 a year ago and now the same shipping costs more than $4,000.

In 2021, the WFP carried out the biggest operation in its history, “targeting 139 million people across the 85 countries where it operates.”

“This work covers both emergency food and nutrition needs, as well as work with partners to build resilience and increase the self-reliance of the poorest and most vulnerable people on the planet,” the agency said.

Source: TRT World