Global Food Crisis

World Hunger Day was established as an international day in 2011 and is sponsored by The Hunger Project, a global nonprofit committed to the end of world hunger. Each year on May 28, the day calls attention to food insecurity, malnutrition, and undernutrition and how this impacts youth, rallying global citizens to highlight sustainable solutions.

World Hunger Day is important to Compassion International because, every day, we see how hunger harms children in poverty.

After steadily declining for a decade, world hunger is on the rise, affecting 9.9%
of people globally.

149 million children
(about one in five worldwide)
are chronically malnourished.

3.1 million children
die from undernutrition each year.

Sources: UNICEF

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.”

The Church is Responding

As the Ukraine war threatens to worsen a global food crisis, the good news is that the church is responding. Compassion is partnering with more than 8,000 local church partners around the world to provide immediate and long-term support to children and families. The local church has been there before this crisis, will be there throughout and will remain long after it ends. 

In disasters, local churches can respond immediately because they have already established trust in their communities through relationships that have been built over decades.

Their response is two-fold: providing food parcels and cash transfers to stop hunger in the short term while empowering families with seeds, fertilizer, livestock and training so they’ll have sustainable supplies of food in the long term.

“Had it not been for the income-generating training the center facilitated for us, we would have been dependent on food distributions,” says Chaltu, a mother in Ethiopia. “I get chills just thinking about what I would have done.”

Routine health screenings are one of the many benefits of Compassion programs. Children see doctors, nurses or healthcare workers regularly. This enables local staff to closely monitor children’s health needs so that when a crisis hits, they can respond immediately. Local churches can deliver goods with dignity and discretion because of long-established relationships in their communities.

Your Prayers Will Make a Difference

Jesus offers provision in the most desperate places. Psalm 23:5 says, “You set a table before me in the presence of my enemies.” In the center of conflict, Jesus sets a table to feed the hungry and care for the vulnerable — and Compassion’s local church partners are being his hands and feet.

“Let’s pray for local churches, that they can be a light in these times of darkness and a place for healing, shelter and service for anyone in need,” says Santiago “Jimmy” Mellado.
Would you take a moment now to pray for the global food crisis?
  • Pray for caregivers and children suffering from hunger; pray for provision, peace and long-term solutions to the global food shortage.
  • Pray for Compassion’s local church partners who are seeing the global food crisis firsthand and responding to meet needs. Ask for them to have wisdom, protection, endurance and the resources they require.

Thank you for your prayers and support on World Hunger Day for those facing the prospect of unimaginable suffering as a global food crisis threatens so many.

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