Wednesday, December 21, 2022

Our World: Hunger in 2022

As the year comes to an end, I'm thinking about food insecurity of people in every part of the world. I feel very helpless, as do many others, in the face of so much suffering. Here are some of the issues I've been thinking about, as the coming end of the year brings me thoughts of the present and of the future.


December 2022 marks the 90th anniversary of the horrific famine in Ukraine in 1932. Millions of Ukrainians, as well as Russians, died as a result of Stalin's policies. 

"The Ukrainian famine—known as the Holodomor, a combination of the Ukrainian words for 'starvation' and 'to inflict death' —by one estimate claimed the lives of 3.9 million people, about 13 percent of the population. And, unlike other famines in history caused by blight or drought, this was caused when a dictator wanted both to replace Ukraine’s small farms with state-run collectives and punish independence-minded Ukrainians who posed a threat to his totalitarian authority." (source)

 Is history repeating itself? 

Market stalls in Donetsk, Ukraine, after Russian shelling, December 6, 2022. (source)

Is Russia again starving the Ukrainians? Unfortunately the answer is yes, and the current Russian war of conquest is not only affecting millions of Ukrainians directly, by destroying their homes, medical facilities, and infrastructure, but is also creating hunger in other parts of the world.

"As the producer of roughly a fifth of the world’s high-grade wheat, Ukraine has historically played an outsized role in the global food supply. The ongoing war has caused prices for grains to soar around the world and threatened to put millions of people in countries dependent on Ukraine’s food exports in danger. 

 "The number of people around the world facing acute food insecurity greatly increased from 135 million in 2019 to 193 million in 2021. Last year, nearly 40 million people experienced emergency levels of acute food insecurity, which is just one step away from famine, and these figures are projected to worsen for 2022." (source)

Hunger throughout the World

Several authoritative reports confirm the depressing facts of increase in world food insecurity. Images of hunger are especially haunting; here are a few of them from various websites of international and charitable agencies.
From Feeding America

Nationwide, more than 33 million people, including five million children, are food insecure, according to the USDA. No community is spared, with rural areas, families with children and communities of color disproportionately affected.” (source: NPR)

"This year’s Global Hunger Index (GHI) brings us face to face with a grim reality. The toxic cocktail of conflict, climate change, and the COVID-19 pandemic had already left millions exposed to food price shocks and vulnerable to further crises. Now the war in Ukraine—with its knock-on effects on global supplies of and prices for food, fertilizer, and fuel—is turning a crisis into a catastrophe." (Global Hunger Index)

Several international agencies offer statistical and analytic information about global hunger. The FAO report, "The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022" summarizes the situation thus:

"This year’s report should dispel any lingering doubts that the world is moving backwards in its efforts to end hunger, food insecurity and malnutrition in all its forms. ... The intensification of the major drivers behind recent food insecurity and malnutrition trends (i.e. conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks) combined with the high cost of nutritious foods and growing inequalities will continue to challenge food security and nutrition. This will be the case until agrifood systems are transformed, become more resilient and are delivering lower cost nutritious foods and affordable healthy diets for all, sustainably and inclusively." (source

On December 19, 2022, the British weekly The Economist released the 2022 Global Food Security Index (GFSI) report (link). This is the most up-to-date information I can find, which shows the third consecutive year of continued deterioration in the global food environment. Here is a brief summary. 
  • Globally, the overall food environment is continuing to weaken, and it is very vulnerable to shocks.
  • Food throughout the world has become less affordable because of inflation in food prices, declining freedom of trade, and reduced funding for food safety nets.
  • Inequity among countries continues to increase. Of the ten most secure nations, eight are in Europe, and the others are Japan and Canada. 
Another summary of the reversal of the optimistic trend — an apparent reduction in global hunger — which seemed to be happening a few years ago: 

"This subsequent stalled progress reflects structural issues and significant risks in the global food system, which include, but are not limited to, volatility in agricultural production, scarcity of natural resources, increasing economic inequality, and trade and supply-chain volatility." (source)

Is there hope for the future?

Current predictions for anything but more global hunger seem pessimistic. Remedies involve distribution of diminishing worldwide supplies to large numbers of people in places that are unable to produce enough to feed their populations. The underlying realities of climate change, destructive war, and an overall downturn in the worldwide economy all seem overwhelming. A few optimistic endeavors, such as effort to reduce food waste, seem ineffective in the face of these global trends. The growing crisis of masses of refugees from starvation clearly is a result of devastating crop failures and possibly irreversible change.

As one individual with limited resources and little political voice, there's not much I can do except try to stay informed about this depressing trend in global human welfare, and contribute money to organizations that have at least a limited level of positive impact.

Blog post © 2022 mae sander
Photos as credited.


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

The steep rise in food prices has resulted in a sharp increase in the number of people in food lines at the food pantry in my town. I am especially shocked and worried about the huge increase in the price of staples including eggs, flour, and oats.

Lori said...

Thank you so much for putting this post together.
It is very sobering to read. It reminds me of the quote...control the food and you control the people.

kwarkito said...

Je trouve pour ma part que dans le pessimisme lucide vous vous défendez fort bien :) Oui je crois que les temps deviennent vraiment difficiles et que nous gouvernants, décideurs,et grands financiers sont dans le déni teinté de cynisme, et aveugles au désastre qui vient

eileeninmd said...

The global hunger index is grim. It is just sad to read how the number of people with food insecurities has increased over the past couple of years.
The only way I can help is with my donations. Thanks for sharing this post, it is important to stay informed. Take care, enjoy your day!

Tandy | Lavender and Lime ( said...

I cannot imagine what it feels like to be starving. It's a word I hope never to use in relation to anyone I know. Take care!

Bleubeard and Elizabeth said...

I was definitely impressed with the way you tackled and researched this latest round of food insecurities. I was delighted at the number of different groups you included. Hunger is something I have never known, although I admit I don't eat nearly as well (or as expensively) as you. Thank you for your take on food insecurities. It helps to keep your readers, including myself, both informed and updated on occasion.