From the Field

Global hunger crisis: Famine closes in

Women walk past a carcass in the parched landscape of Turkana, Kenya.

Soaring food prices driven by the war in Ukraine, persistent drought and other extreme weather events, and the ongoing impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic have escalated extreme hunger worldwide.

Today, nearly 45 million people in 37 countries are at risk of starvation. Due to a lack of adequate nutrition, 22 million children are suffering from wasting — severe weight loss that can lead to death if not treated. This number is equal to the combined populations of New York City, Los Angeles, Chicago, Houston, Phoenix, and Philadelphia.

A humanitarian catastrophe is unfolding in the Horn of Africa: Across Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, nearly 4.9 million girls and boys are acutely malnourished in drought-affected areas and need urgent care.

When the children are hungry, they will start crying, asking for food and will not stop.—Hawa, a mother in Somalia

In Somalia alone, about 6.7 million people will likely face acute food insecurity, and experts predict famine in two districts, Baidoa and Burhakaba — where at least 300,000 people are already living with “catastrophic” levels of food insecurity.

More go hungry, and malnutrition persists

Hunger has exacted a heavy toll on women and children in Baidoa. According to a doctor at Bay Regional Hospital, which offers free medical care to Somalis experiencing severe malnutrition, one to two children are dying daily. Children who recover from malnutrition continue to receive outpatient services, including through World Vision–supported therapeutic clinics and mobile health and nutrition outreach programs.

“When the children are hungry, they will start crying, asking for food and will not stop. When I have water, I give [it to] them to stop crying but it will be … a moment before they start again, demanding for food,” says Hawa, a 30-year-old mother living in an internal displacement camp in Baidoa.

But it’s not just Africa. Hunger has also gripped Afghanistan, Haiti, Myanmar, and Yemen, where millions of people are already experiencing famine-like conditions. Food insecurity is spiking in Central America. Two deadly hurricanes in 2020 — Eta and Iota — devastated an already vulnerable situation in the region.

The truth is that this year we are not going to be able to harvest anything.—Rony, a farmer in Honduras

In Copán Ruinas, Honduras, farmers like Rony Vásquez face challenging conditions with failed crops due to excessive rains and the inability to pay for fertilizer. “The truth is that this year we are not going to be able to harvest anything,” says Rony. For his children, including 7-year-old Andrea, that means missing nutritious meals.

A young Honduran girl holds out wilted, stunted bean sprouts.
In Honduras, 7-year-old Andrea holds bean plants that never grew properly. Lack of money to buy fertilizer in time and saturated soils from the rains prevented this food from reaching her table. (©2022 World Vision/photo by André Guardiola)

From Angola to Yemen, a life-saving mission is underway

In response to the global hunger crisis, World Vision launched our largest humanitarian undertaking ever in April 2022.

We’re working to reach 22 million people with life-saving aid in 26 of the hardest-hit countries: Afghanistan, Angola, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Guatemala, Haiti, Honduras, Kenya, Lebanon, Mali, Mauritania, Myanmar, Niger, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sri Lanka, Sudan, Syria, Tanzania, Uganda, Venezuela, and Yemen.

As of January 23, 2023, we’ve supported more than 18.7 million children and adults in affected countries with the essentials they need to survive. “If we move by faith and share the little we have, the grace of God will engulf the effort,” says Gwayi Patrick, an emergency communications specialist for World Vision in Somalia. “God does not despise our imperfect efforts or see them as insignificant. He works collaboratively, by taking our gifts — and blessing them to increase.”

Join us in praying that God will protect and provide for children and communities facing hunger worldwide.

Almighty God, You are our sustainer, especially in the most challenging times. We pray for You to give the hungry their daily bread (Matthew 6:11) and end their persistent hunger. We ask You to restore health, well-being, and livelihoods. We know no emergency or crisis is too much for You to relieve. 

Hunger has a name

Peter sits inside his home and looks into the camera. His gently clasped hands rest on his chin.
Drought in the Horn of Africa is expected to cause 20 million people to need emergency food assistance.
We invite you to explore a photo exhibition as the global hunger crisis reaches unprecedented levels.

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