Pastor Gleydson in Brazil sees the urgency of World Hunger Day when he helps serve lunches at his local Compassion center. “I remember the day I witnessed a child at the center eat four plates of food and ask for another. We asked him why he was eating like that. His answer broke our heart: ‘I’m eating because I don’t know when I’m going to eat again.’”
As the war in Ukraine worsens hunger across the globe, creating a global food crisis, stories like these are becoming alarmingly common. The conflict is threatening food security for millions of families — and children living in poverty are the most vulnerable and the hardest hit.
Compassion’s unique response is to strengthen communities through partnership with local churches. Thanks to our loyal supporters, we are able to deliver resources and assistance through local churches because they have been there before this crisis, will be there throughout, and will remain long after it is over.
New needs from our church partners are already pouring in. As they faithfully serve with your support, they’ll help stabilize their communities in the short term while providing long-term hunger mitigation.
Here are ways conflict drives global hunger, as well as an overview of Compassion’s unique response and how you can make a difference on World Hunger Day.
Conflict Breeds Chronic Hunger
While the COVID-19 pandemic has intensified humanitarian emergencies, conflict is one of the largest drivers of food emergencies today. Regarding the health of the global food market, there are few worse scenarios than for Russia and Ukraine to be in armed conflict. Together, the two supply almost 30% of the world’s wheat, plus barley, sunflower seed oil and corn, feeding billions of people. With Russia’s exports hit by strict sanctions and Ukraine’s planting season disrupted by the fighting, a huge source of the world’s food supply is trapped.
Africa and the Middle East heavily rely upon wheat imports from the two countries, with Tanzania in particular relying on Russia and Ukraine for almost one-third of its wheat. Combined with the skyrocketing costs of fuel and fertilizer, the conflict has sent global food prices soaring.
Conflict is one of the largest drivers of food emergencies, “powering a destructive wave of famine that threatens to sweep across the world,” says UN World Food Programme (WFP) Executive Director David Beasley. “The toll being paid in human misery is unimaginable.”
According to the WFP, people living in conflict-affected countries are more than 2.5 times more likely to be undernourished than people in other settings.
Even before the war in Ukraine, food insecurity was reported in Haiti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda, Burkina Faso, Togo and throughout Southwest Asia. COVID-19, political instability, conflict, drought and consequences of climate change are also contributing to food shortages. The war in Ukraine is worsening an already desperate situation.
“Conflict tears families, communities, infrastructures, food systems and entire regions apart,” says Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado, CEO of Compassion International. “The children and families that are caught in the middle continue to need our urgent prayers.”