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NEW ANALYSIS: The number of people facing extreme hunger is up more than 50% in 3 years with Afghanistan worst hit

The number of people facing severe levels of hunger has surged by almost 57% to 25.3 million from 16.1 million since 2019 in the 8 worst affected countries amid an unprecedented global hunger crisis with increasing pockets of famine-like conditions, according to new Save the Children analysis.
30 December 2022

The analysis, based on Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) data, found that Afghanistan, Central African Republic, DRC, Haiti, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, and Yemen had the highest numbers of people facing emergency and catastrophic levels of hunger and malnutrition, between 2019 and 2022.

The IPC is the global scale for classifying food insecurity and goes from 1 to 5, with IPC4 and IPC5 indicating emergency and catastrophic levels of hunger and even in some areas famine-like conditions.

The country with the highest number of people facing severe levels of hunger was Afghanistan where this number increased to 6.6 million in 2022 from 2.5 million in 2019. Child malnutrition has long been a problem in Afghanistan and this year there have been reports of caregivers resorting to desperate coping mechanisms, with some even forced to sell their own children.


“In Afghanistan we are finding that children are so hungry that they are unable to remember what they have learnt at school. As a result of malnutrition, they are also more susceptible to life threatening diseases such as cholera. We are also seeing a worrying increase in damaging coping mechanisms such as child marriage and child labour. Responding to this rising need is impossible without the full participation of women in the response, and we’re extremely worried about these findings in the context of the current suspension of programmes.”

Yemen has the second largest number of people experiencing emergency levels of food insecurity, including acute malnutrition, with this number increasing from 3.6 million to 6 million, an increase of 66% in the past two years.

Children are bearing the brunt of Yemen’s food crisis as they are greater risk of malnutrition and death as their developing bodies are more prone to diseases. Children who survive malnutrition are left with life-long effects, including impaired physical growth and cognitive development.


“Nearly eight years of conflict and severe economic decline are driving critical hunger and protection risks in Yemen. Children face the triple threat of starvation, bombs and disease. Over the past 18 months we have seen an increase in children suffering from acute malnutrition. The needs of children in Yemen still far outweigh current levels of funding and support.”

After Yemen, DRC was ranked third in terms of numbers of people facing severe levels of hunger, with 4.1 million, followed by Sudan and South Sudan with about 2.3 million each, Somalia with 1.3 million and Central African Republic with about 652,000. Somalia has the highest number of people facing catastrophic levels of hunger, or IPC5, with 214,000 facing famine-like condition.

The world is facing the worst hunger crisis in modern history. Globally, as many as 60 million children under five could be acutely malnourished by the end of 2022, according to the World Food Programme. The WFP estimates the number of people facing, or at risk of, acute food insecurity has increased to 345 million in 82 countries from 135 million in 53 countries pre-pandemic.

Enabling this crisis is a deadly cocktail of four factors: conflict, climate change, COVID-19, and the cost-of-living crisis, fuelled by the economic fallout of the war in Ukraine.


“Humanitarian organisations delivering assistance in these countries have been sounding the alarm for months and yet the international community has failed to act. Global inaction has already resulted in countless deaths of children and their families. More and more people will die if governments continue to look the other way. We need governments to immediately scale-up funding to prevent further massive loss of life. But in the longer term, we need to invest in early action to ensure other countries do not experience such catastrophic levels of hunger."

MEDIA CONTACT: Joshua Mcdonald  on 0478010972 or


Save the Children’s programmes are temporarily suspended in Afghanistan following last week’s announcement by the Taliban authorities banning the employment of female staff by non-government organisations, preventing Save the Children from operating effectively and safely in the country.

  • Analysis is based on countries experiencing phase 4 and 5 levels of food insecurity, according to Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) data.
  • The analysis excludes countries where the most recent IPC survey did not cover at least 90% of the country’s population, as the higher the population surveyed the more accurate the data relating to the total population.
  • In DRC and Haiti where the population surveyed is lower than 100% we’ve adjusted the population figure, to extrapolate it to the whole population.  Although this extrapolation is relatively modest for 2022 data as we have only included IPC 2022 surveys where the proportion of the population covered by the survey is at least 90%.
  • The analysis also excludes in absolute terms those countries where the most recent survey shows a IPC phase 4 and 5 population of less than 500,000, as to focus on the worst countries in absolute terms.
  • Yemen’s IPC surveys in June 2019 and June 2020 covered 8% and 27% of the population respectively and therefore the analysis uses data from November 2020 which surveyed 100% of the population. South Africa was excluded as there wasn’t an IPC survey for 2022.

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