Extreme weather and armed conflicts have put 240 million people under food stress

In 2016, 240 million people across 45 low-income and/or conflict-affected countries are assessed as being in a ‘food stress’ situation. Within this number, 80 million people are in the more serious condition of “food crisis” with 41.7 million being located in countries affected by El Niño.


A new European Commission report led by JRC scientists and compiled in cooperation with the United Nation’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) identifies crucial and regions where assistance should be prioritised to bridge the gap between emergency and development operations. Moreover, it allows programmatic planning for the short-medium-long term with the aim to strengthen resilience.

The analysis covers crises in the period January 2015-January 2016. These are caused by extreme weather events triggered by the El Niño climate phenomenon, and also by armed conflicts and political turmoil. The report is presented during a high level Commission event “Innovative Ways for Sustainable Nutrition, Food Security and Inclusive Agricultural Growth” in Brussels, which focuses on better funding to address global food crises.


The hotspots of severe food crisis that emerge are mainly in Africa; the Horn of Africa, in particular Ethiopia and Southern Africa (Zimbabwe, Malawi, Lesotho, Angola, Mozambique and Namibia) due to the El-Nino related drought. Countries in Central America and the Caribbean as well as the Pacific Islands have been also badly affected by the drought.

Population in IPC Phase2 (Stress) or higher. Credit: EU, 2016

In addition to climate events, armed conflicts that have intensified recently have put millions of people into extremely vulnerable situations and triggered severe food crises in Syria, Iraq, Yemen, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Central African Republic.

In a number of countries in West Africa food insecurity remains a major concern because of chronic vulnerability despite good crop production in 2015.

Background information

Before 2015, FAO, WFP and the EU were carrying out their own food security analyses. In early 2016, given the magnitude of food crises all over the world the Commission with the technical support of WFP and FAO undertook a global assessment that led to the publication of a common report. In this way a common assessment could be used to respond to current bringing together both development and humanitarian stakeholders and the differing elements involved.

Population in IPC Phase 3 (Crisis) or higher. Credit: EU, 2016

Initially intended to inform the allocation process for 2016 under the EU Pro-Resilience Action (PRO-ACT) programme, the report became instrumental for an EU global consolidated proposition of response.


The report highlights the situation in 70 countries for 2015 as known by January 2016, analysed in terms of number of people in state of food insecurity on the basis of the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) and other relevant available information. A maximum effort has been put into harmonising the approaches across countries in order to use comparable data.

Unlike existing food and nutrition analysis tools, the report allows the identification of countries and regions where the assistance should be prioritised to bridge the gap between emergency and development operations. Moreover, it allows programmatic planning for the short-medium-long term with the aiming of strengthening resilience.

Explore further: Food insecurity rising despite record cereal output

More information: Global analysis of food and nutrition security situation in food crisis hotspots: ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/publication/eur-scientific-and-technical-research-reports/global-analysis-food-and-nutrition-security-situation-food-crisis-hotspots 

Press release: El Niño – EU plans to step up funding in new approach to address global food crises: europa.eu/rapid/press-release_IP-16-1513_en.htm

MEMO: europa.eu/rapid/press-release_MEMO-16-1514_en.htm

El Niño – devastating impact on southern Africa’s harvests and food security: ec.europa.eu/jrc/en/news/el-nino-devastating-impact-southern-africa-harvests-and-food-security

Provided by: European Commission, Joint Research Centre


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