By: Zoe Noakes, Compassion International Marketing Writer   |   Posted: July 06, 2022

Our fragile world is facing an impending global food crisis. As extreme weather and drought collide with the impact of the pandemic, war, and rising inflation, more and more people are facing food insecurity. Here’s how we’re mobilizing to meet the need.

5 Reasons the World is Facing a Global Food Crisis

Our fragile world is facing an impending global food crisis. As extreme weather and drought collide with the impact of the pandemic, war, and rising inflation, more and more people are facing food insecurity. Here’s how we’re mobilizing to meet the need.

Written by Zoe Noakes, Compassion International Marketing Writer
a little girl sits on the ground holding an empty plate

Cosmas stared in shock at the baby girl in front of him. Her mother, Anantalia, said Emiliana was six months old. But with her huge eyes and tiny limbs, Emiliana looked the size of a two-month-old.

Drought has devastated this rural Tanzanian community’s food supply and left the baby girl severely malnourished. At one time, their village would celebrate as they brought in an abundant harvest. That hasn’t happened for a long time.

Unable to find steady work in the dwindling fields, her father couldn’t provide for Emiliana and her twin brother. “I was overwhelmed,” says Cosmas, a staff member at their local child development center, “with how little they were living off.”

Our fragile world is facing an impending global food crisis.

As extreme weather and drought collide with the impact of the pandemic, war, and rising inflation, an increasing number of people like Emiliana’s family are facing food insecurity.

What is Food Insecurity?

Food insecurity is when someone doesn’t have regular access to enough nutritious food. It’s caused when food either isn’t available or is isn’t affordable. Severe food insecurity means a person at times has not eaten for a day or more, leading to extreme and dangerous hunger.

For children, the result of food insecurity is devastating. Little Emiliana suffered severe weight loss — a consequence of malnutrition. If nothing changes, malnutrition can permanently affect a child’s growth and development.

a boy holds a large basket on his head
a young man gets a little help as he delivers a bag of food

What’s the Difference Between Food Insecurity and Famine?

When food insecurity is widespread and action isn’t taken, it leads to famine. Famine is the most extreme form of food insecurity: the complete lack of access to food. In a famine, more than 30% of the local population is malnourished, and people begin dying of starvation, reports the World Food Programme.

What’s Causing the Global Food Crisis?

Here are five reasons why we’re seeing more and more food insecure households.

  1. Conflict is Creating Hunger

    Conflict is the biggest driver of hunger globally, responsible for 65% of people currently facing hunger and food insecurity. “Conflict tears families, communities, infrastructures, food systems and entire regions apart,” says Santiago ‘Jimmy’ Mellado, CEO of Compassion International.

    According to the World Food Programme, up to 811 million people go to bed hungry every night, and the number of people facing severe food insecurity has doubled — from 135 million to 276 million — in two years.

  2. The War in Ukraine’s Impact

    For the global food supply chain, there are few worse countries to be at war than Russia and Ukraine. Together, the two provide almost 30% of the world’s wheat — plus barley, sunflower seed oil and corn — feeding billions of people. This war is tipping our fragile world toward mass hunger, reports The Economist.

    Meanwhile, Russia and Belarus are two of the world’s top producers of potash, an ingredient in fertilizer. Farmers worldwide are affected. So with Russia’s exports blocked by many countries and Ukraine’s planting season impacted by the fighting, a huge supply of the world’s food is trapped or disrupted.

    According to The World Bank, this hits poor and low-income countries hardest as they depend on food imports the most.

  3. The Rising Cost of Living

    Food has suddenly become very expensive. Trips to the supermarket and the gas station cost a lot more — up to one-third and two-thirds more, respectively, according to the United Nations. The Russia-Ukraine war is worsening this inflation, making it even harder to get food at a decent price.

    With families in emerging economies spending an average of 25% of their budgets on food — up to 40% in sub-Saharan Africa and 60% in Haiti — the rising cost of living could place households with children in life or death situations. “Food price increases are having devastating effects on the poorest and most vulnerable,” says World Bank Group President David Malpass.

  4. Extreme Weather and Drought

    Extreme weather like hurricanes and droughts is increasing global hunger by shrinking harvests and skyrocketing food prices. Many of the world’s poorest countries rely on agriculture as their main industry, and they eat seasonally according to their harvest. This means when there is no harvest, there is often no food.

    The Horn of Africa is in the grips of a severe drought after three rainy seasons have failed to materialize. Imagine your entire income being dependent not on your hard work or experience but on the weather. Imagine three years of income wiped out because it didn’t rain.

  5. The Effects of the Pandemic

    The impact of COVID-19 pushed more people into poverty. Lockdowns devastated family livelihoods, the economy, and disrupted supply chains. The result left 1 in 8 people severely food insecure. Two years later, these families are still struggling to put food on the table.

    “When my mother could not find food for us, we would sleep on empty stomachs,” says 11-year-old Emmanuel in Togo. “The hope that we might find something to eat the next day was what would sustain us.”

a boy stands with a bag of food

What is Compassion Doing to Respond?

Amid this growing crisis, Compassion’s 8,500 local church partners are already serving children and their families, listening to their needs and responding with practical help. In Tanzania, Emiliana’s family was immediately given food parcels and baby formula. The result was transformational.

“Within a short time, Emiliana was able to stand by herself. I never thought she would be able to,” says her father, Amos.

Compassion’s church partners aren’t just helping Emiliana — they are deploying help to the most vulnerable countries in the world. The response is two-fold: meeting urgent nutrition needs now while working toward a sustainable solutions to help stop hunger.

Our local partners will:

  • Provide immediate food packages and/or unconditional cash transfers to households vulnerable to food insecurity.
  • Provide long-term food security through distributing seeds, fertilizer, livestock, and training on building and maintaining home gardens and small-scale farms.

The local church is best positioned to assist in this crisis because it has established decades of trust and relationships within the community. It's been there before, will be there during, and will remain long after the crisis.


  1. “Hunger and food insecurity.” Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations,
  2. “The 5 steps from food security to famine.” World Food Programme.
  3. “A global food crisis.” World Food Programme.
  4. “The coming food catastrophe.” The Economist.
  5. “Food Security Update.” The World Bank.
  6. “Secretary-General’s remarks to the Global Food Security Call to Action Ministerial.” United Nations.
  7. “Apocalypse now? The alarming effects of the global food crisis.” The Observer World News.
  8. “World Bank Announces Planned Actions for Global Food Crisis Response.” The World Bank.
Global Food Crisis

A global food crisis is looming, and the church is ready to respond. Compassion partners with more than 8,000 local churches around the world to provide immediate and long-term support to children and families.