Published on Development for Peace

To eradicate hunger, we need to get better at building resilience in countries affected by conflict and fragility

Close up of a man's cupped hands carrying fish food above the surface of the water Nigeria - A sustainable and nutritious food system creates jobs for youth and produces healthy smoked fish for farmers to sell and people to eat. Photo: Dasan Bobo/World Bank

Eradicating hunger is an urgent global challenge. Yet amid a tumultuous decade and a half, it is one we may well be failing. Recent official data on the indicators used to track progress toward the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) show SDG2: Zero Hunger, has veered off track. Following years of progress, things began to shift in 2014, when the number of undernourished people worldwide started to rise. In 2022, more than 250 million people faced a food crisis, the majority living in fragile and conflict-affected situations (FCS). According to World Bank’s World Food Security Outlook (WFSO) database, this trend is set to continue through to 2030 – and disparities among income groups are also set to grow wider over the projected period.

The WFSO database uses cutting-edge machine learning techniques to fill data gaps and provide a comprehensive, timely picture of global food insecurity. By generating new insights into how countries fall into food insecurity, it strengthens global efforts to fight hunger. This is particularly relevant for countries impacted by fragility, conflict, and violence (FCV). These countries also tend to have scarce and incomplete official data, hampering global efforts to fight food insecurity. By addressing these data gaps, the WFSO database sheds new light on food insecurity trends in the most vulnerable countries.

What are we learning so far?

Severe food insecurity has surged in FCS countries over the last 15 years

Line graph showing Prevalence of Severe Food Insecurity in FCS-23 (IDA and IBRD) compared to non-FCS countries in IDA


At the start of the 21st century, food insecurity in present-day FCS countries was similar to that in other countries eligible for support from the World Bank's International Development Association (IDA), following a declining trend until 2007. However, a series of shocks increased food insecurity in FCS countries, from which they have not recovered.

Line graph showing rising Total population that is Severely Food Insecure FCS-23 countries


Beginning with the 2007 world food crisis, a series of global shocks have pushed more people living in FCS countries into severe food insecurity –from approximately 109 million people in 2008, to an estimated 267 million in 2022. Without action, this figure is projected to rise above 287 million people by 2030.

An ever-greater proportion of the population in FCS countries are going hungry. 

Line graph of Prevalence of Severe Food Insecurity in FCS compared to IDA and World


The problem is not just getting worse in absolute terms. Today, around one in four people living in FCS countries faces severe food insecurity. This contrasts with one in five people in all IDA-eligible countries (including FCS) and about one in eight globally. This trend is projected to remain the same into 2030, unless efforts to tackle hunger are ramped up significantly.

Compounding shocks make recovery slower and more difficult in FCS countries

The double burdens of climate shocks and violent conflict are exacerbating existing food insecurity in many FCS countries. Global shocks such as the COVID-19 crisis and Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, have further compounded these challenges, making recovery from food crises in FCS countries slower and more difficult.

While there are signs that food security numbers are now stabilizing globally, the share of the population living with food insecurity in FCS countries is projected to increase further. Indeed, global hunger is becoming increasingly concentrated in FCS countries. If current trends continue, by 2030 around a third of the global population living with hunger will be in countries affected by fragility, conflict, and violence. This is up from about one in seven in 2007.

This lack of resilience and slower recovery in FCS countries is having a profound effect on the shape of global food insecurity: hunger today is increasingly intertwined with fragility and conflict. 

Line graph showing the rising Severely Food Insecure Population in FCS as a percentage of the global food insecure population


Getting back on track with SDG2 and ending global hunger

Understanding the shape of global hunger, and where the challenges are most acute, is a crucial step in solving the problem. To get back on track with achieving SDG 2 and ending global hunger, we need to urgently scale up interventions to address food insecurity. These interventions need to be targeted and tailored to each country’s context. As the WFSO database is showing, this increasingly means focusing on FCS countries.

As food, climate, and security crises continue to emerge and intertwine, we must get ahead of the next crisis and build resilience in the world’s most vulnerable places. The World Bank is responding by improving the speed and flexibility of our funding. Earlier this year, we launched our expanded Crisis Toolkit, which allows countries to quickly repurpose undispersed Bank funds to respond to emergencies, while also providing new flexibility to help countries put in place more contingent resources to prepare for future crises. We are also helping countries to monitor food security with faster data-driven tools, strengthen their preparedness and build resilience in the face of an increasingly volatile global environment through our Preparedness Plans for Food and Nutrition Security Crises.

Addressing hunger emergencies may also help prevent conflict. Paying special attention to promoting peace and preventing conflict is crucial in any food security programming.  

Indira Konjhodzic

Lead Operations Officer

Bo Andree

Data Scientist, Development Data Group, World Bank

Zacharey Carmichael

Senior Economist, Agriculture & Food Global Practice

Lindsey Jones

Senior Operations Officer

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