The World’s Hungriest Countries

World's hungriest countries - Action Against Hunger

The latest UN Hunger Hotspots report highlights Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen as the countries with the highest levels of hunger.

An all-time high of 49 million people in 46 countries across the globe are now at risk of famine or a food crisis, unless they receive immediate life-saving support. This includes 750,000 people already facing starvation and death in Ethiopia, Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Afghanistan.

Conflict remains the key driver of hunger around the world, with the war in Ukraine further aggravating the hunger crisis in east Africa and elsewhere because of skyrocketing food and fertilizer prices.

Extreme weather intensified by the climate crisis, like droughts and cyclones, are also having a disastrous impact – leading to repeated failed harvests.

Hunger hotspots: six countries of urgent concern


World's hungriest countries - Afghanistan Action Against Hunger

With more than 6 million people without enough food to eat, Afghanistan has just been added to the list of countries with the most concerning levels of hunger.

The economic situation in Afghanistan has deteriorated quickly since the political transition in August 2021. Over 90% of the population has been pushed into poverty. Hunger is rising and the need for humanitarian support is increasing while access restrictions remain extreme.

The benefits of the winter crop harvest may also be reduced this year because of drought during the country’s normal rainy season.

Action Against Hunger’s work in Afghanistan

Our team in Afghanistan is recognised for its expertise in health and nutrition. We run projects diagnosing and treating children for life-threatening hunger and help communities access safe drinking water. To help protect people’s jobs and access to food, we provide feed for livestock so they can produce meat and milk. Our mobile health teams also travel to remote communities who struggle to access medical services to make sure no one is left behind.


World's hungriest countries - Ethiopia Action Against Hunger

In Ethiopia, escalating conflict and extreme weather caused by climate change have worsened access to food in the country, which is now facing the largest food crisis in east Africa. The political situation, particularly in the Tigray region, remains volatile and the violence has disrupted people’s lives. Communities have had no choice but to flee their homes – limiting access to agricultural land and other livelihoods.

Compounding the consequences of the conflict, Ethiopia is highly vulnerable to extreme weather patterns and is currently experiencing the worst drought in 40 years. Seasonal forecasts for the upcoming rainy season are still uncertain, with potential signs of below average rainfall in some areas and average to above average rainfall in southern Ethiopia. A fourth poor rainy season is likely, which will have significant effects on harvests. This means some communities will be less likely to replenish their food stocks.

Action Against Hunger’s work in Ethiopia

We’ve been working in Ethiopia since 1985, providing humanitarian assistance to almost 2 million people. Our work focuses on providing nutrition and health support to children under five suffering with life-threatening hunger as well as supporting communities through cash assistance.


World's Hungriest Countries - Nigeria Action Against Hunger

Conflict is still the main cause of hunger in Nigeria. Increasing violence is causing disruptions in markets and farming practices, affecting people’s ability to earn income and forcing people to leave their homes. For those living in areas controlled by armed groups, it can be extremely difficult for humanitarian organisations to reach them with the support they need.

Close to 1.2 million people will be on the brink of famine during the lean season from June to August 2022, especially in Adamawa, Borno and Yobe states.

Action Against Hunger’s work in Nigeria

We’ve been working in Nigeria since 2010 trying to fight the root causes of hunger. We’ve continued to provide vital monthly food assistance to over 200,000 people in Borno and Yobe states. Our teams provide technical support to families in farming, livestock raising, fishing and other income-generating activities to improve their access to food.


World's hungriest countries - Somalia Action Against Hunger

Along with Afghanistan, Somalia has also been added to the list of countries with the highest levels of hunger. Child malnutrition has risen by 40% between January and April 2022 alone.

Three consecutive seasons of very low rainfall have led to poor harvests and widespread livestock deaths. Because of conflict and repeated droughts, many have been forced to leave their homes in search of food.

Due to the country’s dependence on wheat and sunflower imports from Russia and Ukraine, food prices are also skyrocketing.

Action Against Hunger’s work in Somalia

Our work in Somalia focuses on treating women and children for malnutrition and providing clean water and sanitation.

Our mobile teams travel to villages and displacement camps to help monitor health and nutrition and provide healthcare. We also give cash to families in need so they can buy essentials.

South Sudan

World's Hungriest Countries - South Sudan Action Against Hunger

In South Sudan, an anticipated fourth consecutive year of widespread flooding, conflict and a weak economy are likely to intensify the existing hunger crisis in the world’s newest nation.

Although the situation remains extremely concerning with many still facing starvation and death, thanks to coordinated humanitarian action the number of people experiencing famine reduced slightly to 87,000 between April and June 2022.

Action Against Hunger’s work in South Sudan

We’re often the only organisation providing life-saving health and nutrition services in remote areas of South Sudan. We’ve supported more than 5,000 farmers with training and the tools to grow nutritious crops and continue to treat children and pregnant and breastfeeding women for malnutrition. We also distribute vital food baskets to families affected by floods and are providing access to clean water, good hygiene and safe toilets.


World's Hungriest Countries - Yemen Action Against Hunger

Families living in war-torn Yemen are facing the world’s worst humanitarian crisis in decades.

The country’s civil war is still one of the main causes of life-threatening hunger in the country today. In April, a two-month ceasefire was agreed after an increase in the intensity of the conflict in the first few months of 2022. The truce was renewed for another two months at the beginning of June, but the situation remains fragile. Civilians continue to bear the brunt of the conflict with thousands forced to flee their homes. Life-saving imports also remain disrupted causing more strain for families in a food crisis.

The food security situation has worsened significantly since 2021, with 161,000 people expected to experience famine between June and September this year.

Action Against Hunger’s work in Yemen

Despite tight restrictions, we continue to support vulnerable children and their families in Yemen through our nutrition, water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) and mental health services. We provide female-led households in poor financial situations with unconditional grants and train mothers to create awareness about the best way to feed their children.

List of countries with very concerning levels of hunger

The situation in the following countries is deteriorating quickly and they’re at risk of joining the countries with the highest levels of hunger.

Ukraine, Sri Lanka, Benin, Cabo Verde, Guinea and Zimbabwe have all been added to this list since January 2022.

  • Angola
  • Benin
  • Burkina Faso
  • Cabo Verde
  • Central African Republic
  • Chad
  • Democratic Republic of Congo
  • Ethiopia
  • Haiti
  • Honduras
  • Guinea
  • Kenya
  • Lebanon
  • Madagascar
  • Mali
  • Mauritania
  • Mozambique
  • Niger
  • Sri Lanka
  • Sudan
  • Syria
  • Ukraine
  • Zimbabwe

Read the full report here


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