On World Hunger Day (28 May), Caritas International condemns the dramatic rise in hunger rates due to the climate crisis, the impact of COVID-19 and conflicts, and especially highlighting how the war in Ukraine has devastating consequences for the entire world, particularly with regard to insecurity food.
Therefore, Caritas calls on governments and key stakeholders to get involved at all levels and urges the implementation of sustainable recovery strategies that rely on addressing the impacts of climate change and conflict in order to enhance the resilience of the food supply chain and avoid hunger spikes.
About 276 million people worldwide face acute food insecurity, while 811 million people still sleep on an empty stomach. Across the Sahel and the Horn of Africa, millions of people are facing drought and famine, and an estimated 15-16 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia are in need of immediate food aid due to drought. In Venezuela, where the rate of child malnutrition rose to 26 percent during the COVID-19 pandemic, 9.3 million people are food insecure, and 96 percent of the population lives in poverty, on less than $3 a day. In Syria, more than 55% of the population is food insecure. The number of malnourished Syrian children – more than 6.5 million – has risen by seven percent in the past year alone.
Caritas implements a number of community-led programs and initiatives around the world, particularly in the Global South, to address the relationship between multiple drivers of hunger, including poverty, social and political instability, war, access to decent work opportunities, injustice and climate change.
Local and national caritas have trained farmers in agroecology, and the growth of local community economies to help deal with factors that undermine food security and social cohesion. For example, in Burkina Faso, to help more than 2.2 million people suffering from hunger due to conflict and extreme weather conditions, Caritas Burkina Faso is providing affected people with food and access to social and economic services to promote inclusion. LC also facilitates access to information and services for smallholders and other value chain actors in order to improve the production and processing of sustainable products and nutritious foods.
In the Rohingya camps in Bangladesh, Caritas has helped organize and support a number of microfinance initiatives such as community kitchen garden projects, fisheries, and beehives, as well as pig and goat farming.
“To avert the imminent danger of an unprecedented global food crisis, there is an urgent need for long-term sustainable solutions and political will and determination, addressing the roots of our unfair food system that is causing hunger,” said Caritas International Secretary-General, Aloysius John. It also highlights the central role that local communities can play in bringing about change and overcoming issues related to food security and hunger in the world. “It is possible to achieve a Zero Hunger world provided that people are motivated and encouraged to become active players in food production,” he adds.
In his encyclical Fratelli Totti, Pope Francis highlights that “[…] Millions of people suffer and die of starvation. At the same time, tons of food is thrown away. This constitutes a real scandal. Hunger is a crime. Food is an inalienable right.” Recalling these words, on World Hunger Day, CI urges world leaders and policy makers to:
Allocate more funds to programs that enhance community resilience in the long term in order to address the various drivers of hunger, including conflict, environmental degradation and poor governance.
Promote inclusive and transparent policy dialogues on the structural drivers of hunger. This response must be coordinated to provide assistance to local structural systems.
– Give priority to programs that holistically support the poorest and marginalized, including small farmers, and include the rights of the poor in all discussions. It is also critical to include the meaningful participation of domestic producers and consumers, particularly women, who are responsible for 60-80% of food production in developing countries, in policy making and implementation at local levels.
– Encouraging the adoption of sustainable practices in the food system, and the expansion of ecological and sustainable agriculture. Investing in the transformation of food systems, particularly in agroecology, can make countries more resilient to geopolitical shocks that accelerate hunger.
– Implement sustainable recovery strategies that build on addressing the impacts of climate change and conflict in order to enhance the resilience of the food supply chain and avoid rising hunger.