Hunger: A Looming Global Crisis

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The number of people around the world experiencing chronic hunger is growing at an alarming rate. A variety of overlapping crises are leaving more people every day, including millions of children, without enough to eat, and immediate measures are needed to avoid a worldwide food emergency. Governments, industry, and NGOs all have crucial roles to play in the effort to reduce hunger and build food system resiliency.

The global scope of hunger

Estimates suggest that as many as 828 million people around the world, or about 10% of the human population, are suffering from hunger, an increase of 150 million since 2019.

Children who experience malnutrition early in life risk suffering lifelong repercussions. Wasting — having a dangerously low body weight relative to one’s height — can increase the risk of death in children by up to 12 times and currently affects an estimated 45 million children worldwide under the age of five. Nearly 150 million more children in the same age range have had their growth stunted due to chronic malnutrition.

What is causing the rise in hunger?

The historic rise in the number of hungry children around the world has been driven by several interconnected factors. Each of these crises would have a significant effect on its own, but together, their combined impact threatens to have devastating consequences for hundreds of millions of people and leave even more children hungry and malnourished.

  • The Covid-19 pandemic caused widespread loss of income and supply chain disruptions from which communities around the world, especially those in developing economies, have yet to recover. Pandemic-related school closures have also forced millions of children to miss out on school meal programs, a source of nutrition relied on by many families around the world. 370 million children worldwide have been affected, missing an average of 4 out of 10 school meals since the pandemic began.
  • The war in Ukraine has worsened an already dire situation for many vulnerable people. In addition to as many as half of the children in Ukraine being displaced, the war also poses a serious risk to the global food supply, as both Ukraine and the Russian Federation are major producers of staple foods — combined, the two countries are leading exporters of fertilizer and supply nearly a third of the world’s wheat and a fifth of all corn, as well as 80% of all sunflower seed products like sunflower oil. The war threatens to push food prices for families and parents even higher, especially in countries that rely on imports for much of their food.
  • Extreme weather fueled by a changing climate is taking a toll on agricultural production around the world. Rising temperatures, droughts, floods, and powerful storms reduce crop yield, kill livestock, and damage equipment and infrastructure.
  • Existing inequalities mean that the most vulnerable communities suffer the greatest impacts from global crises and are least equipped to recover quickly. About 45% of deaths of children under 5 are linked to undernutrition, occurring mostly in low and middle-income countries.

The combined weight of these factors is putting as many as 49 million people at risk of famine conditions. Rapidly rising food prices and a global food system under threat from human conflict and environmental disasters threaten millions of children worldwide, especially those in the most vulnerable communities, with illness and even death caused by hunger. Urgent action is needed to avert disaster and help provide children with the nutrition they need to survive.

Remittances play a key role in keeping families fed.

More than $8.6 billion in remittances is sent to famine-affected countries around the world. For families squeezed by rising food prices and economic slowdowns, money sent by loved ones working away from home can serve as a crucial bridge to making ends meet. Studies consistently show that households receiving remittances see improvements in both the quantity and quality of food they can buy compared to similar households not receiving them.

In addition to helping families meet immediate food expenses, remittances also help strengthen local food production in receiving communities. Half of the remittances sent to rural areas are spent on agricultural expenses, meaning farming families receiving remittances invest in the tools and resources needed to grow food for their neighbors. When a local farmer’s customers receive remittances, their increased spending on food means the farmer can produce more, hire helpers, and improve the nutrition of their entire community.

Ria joins Save the Children’s “Hunger Crisis Moment of Action”

In response to the growing threat of food insecurity around the world, we are proud to partner with Save the Children on “Hunger Crisis Moment of Action.” This campaign calls on money transfer operators like Ria and other financial institutions to suspend fees for transfers to target countries with high food insecurity, work together to raise awareness about the growing threat of hunger, and spread the word to our customers that they can send money to their loved ones fee-free.

From World Food Day, October 16, through November 16, we’ll be offering zero-fee transfers to some of the countries facing the greatest risk of increased hunger. Eligible transfers can be made from any Ria store or agent or online through the Ria app.

We are offering different pay-out options tailored to the needs of each of the countries in which zero-fee transfers are available. For example, mobile wallet deposits are more convenient for recipients in some countries, while bank deposits or cash pickup are a more viable option in others.

Zero-fee bank deposits can be made to Burkina Faso, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Kenya, Mali, and Yemen. Zero-fee mobile wallet deposits can be made to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, and Haiti. And zero-fee transfers can be sent to Afghanistan for cash pickup.

Learn more about the hunger crisis and what you can do to help.

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