Food Insecurity Affects 282 Million People in 2023
Food insecurity increased in 2023 due to a combination of conflicts, economic shocks and extreme weather events.

In 2023, nearly 282 million people – 21.5% of the analysed population across 59 countries and territories – faced high levels of acute food insecurity, according to the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) 2024.

This is 24 million more people than 2022. The rise was due to the report’s increased coverage of food crisis contexts and a sharp deterioration in food security, especially Gaza and Sudan.

“The Gaza Strip became the most severe food crisis in our reporting history. Conflict and insecurity, along with extreme weather, events and economic shocks, are the key drivers of food insecurity and nutrition crisis,” said Dominique Burgeon, Director of the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Liaison Office in Geneva.

The current situation in the Gaza Strip accounts for 80% of those facing imminent famine, along with South Sudan, Burkina Faso, Somalia and Mali.

For four consecutive years, the proportion of people facing acute food insecurity has remained persistently high at almost 22% of those assessed, significantly exceeding pre-COVID-19 levels.

“This crisis demands an urgent response. Using the data in this report to transform food systems and address the underlying causes of food insecurity and malnutrition will be vital,” said António Guterres, UN Secretary-General.


Number of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity in 59 countries and territories in 2023.(GRFC 2024)

The report brings focuses on the enormity of the challenge of achieving the end of hunger by 2030 – a key UN Sustainable Development Goal. Improvements in food security in some countries was outweighed by deteriorating conditions in others.

Over 26 million people are one step away from famine, while  the total population in catastrophe was “more than four times higher than in 2016,” said Burgeon.The report was produced by the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC), a multi-stakeholder initiative that is working to address the food crises.

Protracted hunger

Acute malnutrition worsened in 2023, particularly among people displaced because of conflict and disasters. Children and women are at the forefront of these hunger crises, with over 36 million children under five years of age acutely malnourished across 32 countries, the report showed.

“The report also tells us that 60% of children experiencing acute malnutrition live in the ten countries facing the highest level of acute food insecurity,” said Burgeon of FAO. 

Thirty six countries have consistently featured in the GRFC analyses since 2016, reflecting continuing years of acute hunger, and currently representing 80% of the world’s most hungry. One million people more people face emergency levels of acute food insecurity across 39 countries and territories.

In 2023, more than 705,000 people were at the catastrophe level of food insecurity and at risk of starvation – the highest number in the GRFC’s reporting history and up fourfold since 2016.


The share of the analysed population facing high levels of acute food insecurity increased sharply from 14 percent in 2018 to more than 20 percent each year since 2020.

Key drivers: Conflicts and extreme weather 

Conflict remained the primary driver of hunger, affecting 20 countries and forcing 135 million people into acute food insecurity – almost half of the global number. 

Sudan faced the largest deterioration due to conflict, with 8.6 million more people facing high levels of acute food insecurity as compared with 2022.

“Sudan is a major concern for, the nutrition component because primarily of the major caseload, the number of people is staggering and also for the difficulty of reaching these people. In many areas, there is impossible access and or inconsistent access,” said Stefano Fedele, Global Nutrition Cluster Coordinator for UNICEF Geneva.

Extreme weather events were the primary drivers in 18 countries where over 77 million people faced high levels of acute food insecurity, up from 12 countries with 57 million people in 2022.

The impacts of economic shocks affected 21 countries where around 75 million people were facing high levels of acute food insecurity, due to their high dependency on imported food and agricultural inputs, persisting macroeconomic challenges, including currency depreciation, high prices and high debt levels.


The drivers of food insecurity are interlinked and mutually reinforcing

Breaking the cycle

Tackling persistent food crises requires urgent long-term national and international investment to transform food systems and boost agricultural and rural development, according to the report.

It also advocates for peace and prevention of conflict to become an integral part of the longer-term food systems transformation. 

Since 2023, needs have outpaced available resources and many humanitarian operations now overstretched, with many being forced to scale-down and further cut support to the most vulnerable.  

“This is truly a global challenge. There are far too many people waking up in the morning not knowing where their next meal will come from, not knowing how to feed their children, and having to make really truly impossible decisions throughout the course of their day to ensure that their most fundamental needs are being met,” said Courtney Blake, Senior Humanitarian Advisor for the US Mission in Geneva.

Image Credits: Unsplash, Global Report on Food Security 2024.

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