The response to global hunger is tragically inadequate

The “Global Report on Food Crises”, released today by the Food Security Information Network, says that more than 113 million people across 53 countries experienced acute hunger and required urgent food, nutrition and livelihoods assistance in 2018.

Reacting to the news, Oxfam France’s Executive Director Cécile Duflot, said:

“We live in a world of plenty, yet one in nine of people are hungry, more than 110 million women, men and children require urgent humanitarian assistance, and two global food price crises in a little over ten years pushed 44 million people into poverty. This is a human-made crisis caused by conflict, climate change, and a broken global food system.

“Decades of bad policy making have led to the corporate takeover of our food and agricultural systems where ensuring a decent income for farmers or a sustainable food supply comes a poor second to securing shareholder returns. At the same time, governments have failed to invest in, or provide development aid for, smallholder agriculture – even though smallholder farmers, many of which are women, play a critical role in feeding hundreds of millions of people across the globe.

“Governments in rich and poor countries alike have promised bold reforms, but delivered little. That must change. Governments and aid donors must do far more to support women by promoting gender equality in agriculture to unleash their huge potential to help end hunger. They also must invest primarily in small-holder agriculture, where growth has been proven to be two to four times more effective at reducing hunger and poverty than in any other sector.”

Notes to editors: 
  • Oxfam France’s Executive Director, Cécile Duflot, and other Oxfam spokespeople are available in Brussels for interviews in English and French.
  • Oxfam’s new report “Ten Years after the Global Food Crisis, Rural Women Still Bear the Brunt of Poverty and Hunger” analyses the reforms implemented since the food price crisis in 2007-2008, and highlights why they will not be enough to prevent another crisis or end hunger.
  • The 2019 “Global Report on Food Crises” forecasts that conflict and insecurity will remain the main drivers of acute food insecurity and malnutrition in 2019, together with extreme climate events like Cyclone Idai and the drought in southern Africa, which will undermine the livelihood of hundreds of millions of people in the region.
  • Women play a crucial role in agriculture, feeding hundreds of millions of people worldwide. Yet, they face systemic discrimination – for instance when it comes to the right to own land or access to credit. However, the 2019 food crises report highlights that women are more likely to be food-insecure than men in every region of the world, and that they are disproportionately affected by climate change, conflict and displacement. In several countries, including Afghanistan and Ethiopia, the situation of women worsened in 2018, and they are more affected by acute malnutrition than a year before.
  • The report also underlines the need for more and better data on how emergencies impact hunger and food insecurity of women. This could help to better understand the root causes of malnutrition, and to fight them effectively.
  • The price of food commodities rose by 83% between early 2007 and May 2008. A similar spike in food prices happened again between 2010 and 2011. These spikes were driven by a range of factors, including food price speculation, increased global demand for biofuels, decreasing food stocks, the diversion of food for livestock, and extreme weather events linked to climate change. Structural problems which also contributed to the spike in food prices include the liberalization of agricultural trade, the concentration of distribution and input supply in the hands of a few corporations, the marginalization of smallholder farmers, declining public investment in agriculture and decreasing development aid to small-holder agriculture.
  • Reforms and increased investment in agriculture pledged in the aftermath of the crisis have been inadequate. According to UN estimates, there is an investment gap in developing-country agriculture of USD 260 billion annually.
  • Oxfam analyzed project data for EU development aid to the agricultural sector and found that, contrary to what it promised, only 2-3 percent of EU funding promoted gender equality in agriculture.
  • In a 2008 report, the World Bank states that growth in small-scale agriculture is two to four times more effective at reducing in hunger and poverty than growth in any other sector.
Contact information: 

Florian Oel | Brussels | florian.oel@oxfam.org | office +32 2 234 11 15 | mobile +32 473 56 22 60

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