Alice in a cabbage field supported by Action Against Hunger in the Democratic Republic of Congo..

Food security

Around 2 billion people did not have access to safe, nutritious and sufficient food in 2019. That’s enough to fill Wembley Stadium over 22,000 times.

Food security means a person always has steady access to safe and nutritious food to maintain an active and healthy life.

The global food supply is not even and some places produce more food than others. Even though the world produces enough food to feed its entire population, four out of ten people across the globe can’t afford even the cheapest healthy diet.

The long-term effects of food insecurity are devastating – leading to poor health and disastrous socio-economic consequences.

What causes food insecurity?

There are many reasons why some countries experience food insecurity more than others.

Conflict

Long and complex conflicts affect millions of people around the world. They can lead to the sudden large-scale displacement of people who often end up living in makeshift camps.

During conflict people often lose their source of income and are pushed into food insecurity. Food systems and markets become disrupted, pushing up prices and sometimes leading to a lack of water, fuel and food.

Conflicts prevent businesses from operating – weakening economies and reducing employment opportunities.

Food can be used as a weapon, with armed groups cutting off food supplies in order to gain ground. Landmines and improvised explosive devices can also prevent access to or destroy agricultural lands.

A woman collects food at a fair organised by Action Against Hunger in Democratic Republic of Congo.

A food fair organised by Action Against Hunger in Ituri province, Democratic Republic of Congo. Conflict has caused widespread hunger in the region.

The climate crisis

Climate change is driving a rise in extreme weather around the world, leading to more frequent droughts and floods. It can also cause a loss of income for families because of decreased employment opportunities in the farming sector, meaning they struggle to access food. Poor harvests can also increase food prices.

Increasing desertification through gradual climate change make communities less able to deal with future shocks. This can increase tensions between farmers and herders over access to water and land.

Poverty

With 689 million people around the world living on less than US$1.90 a day according to the World Bank, poverty and inequality are also leading drivers of food insecurity. When people have less money, they can’t afford food and become unable to work. Families in the countries where we operate often spend most of their income on food.

Those living in poverty frequently skip meals or eat cheaper and nutrition-poor foods, putting their health at risk.

Economic shocks like hyperinflation can also coincide with sharp increases in the price of staple foods.

Facts and figures

  • 18,194T

    In 2019, we delivered over 18,000 tonnes of food assistance.

  • 2.4M

    We supported more than two million people through our food security and livelihoods programmes in 2019.

  • 252

    Action Against Hunger runs over 250 food security and livelihoods programmes around the world.

Growing healthy food to fight hungerA participant at a farmer field school in Pakistan.

Growing healthy food to fight hunger

How we’re supporting communities in Pakistan to get the nutrients they need to maintain healthy diets.

Read the story

Action Against Hunger’s food security and livelihoods programmes

Any response to food insecurity must not focus only on calories, but also take into account nutrition to avoid further health crises in the future.

Our food security and livelihoods programmes tackle the root causes of hunger by addressing problems of food production, access to food and people’s income.

To meet a community’s needs, we design our programmes to increase agricultural production, kickstart the local economy and improve vulnerable communities’ access to sustainable sources of nutritious food and income.

Here are a few examples of our food security and livelihoods programmes:

  • Bangladesh: Around 340,000 people including refugees and their host communities benefited from our food security and livelihood activities in 2019.
  • Cambodia: We improved peoples’ access to food by creating over 5,000 community groups focused on rice banks, farming and home gardens.
  • Ethiopia: With support from our food security and livelihoods team, mothers in Nguenyyiel Camp for refugees were able to start growing healthy nutritious food, including swiss chard, kale, okra and beetroot.
  • Philippines: We run a range of projects to increase food security, including home gardening, mushroom farming and poultry management.

Related

Climate crisis

Gai tries to spear fish after his village in South Sudan is flooded.

Rising temperatures and extreme weather are having a huge impact on already vulnerable communities.

Nutrition

An Action Against Hunger staff member screens a child for malnutrition in Mali.

Providing children with the nutrition they need means they can fulfil their potential and build a brighter, healthier future.

Conflict

South Sudanese refugees supported by an Action Against Hunger member of staff.

Most people facing hunger and malnutrition in the world today can be found in countries affected by conflict.