The hostilities in Ukraine have delivered daily reminders that conflict creates risk to human lives even beyond violence. Conflict also affects people’s ability to access food. In 2018, the United Nations recognized conflict as a key driver of severe food crises, including famine. The conflict in Ukraine has driven over 3.5 million people to seek safety in other countries and displaced an estimated 6.5 million people within the country, leaving them with few reliable food sources.
In one West African country* where World Renew works, ongoing conflict has forced thousands of people to flee their homes. But the camps that provide refuge offer limited means for families to earn enough to meet their food needs.
“After the arrival of the jihadis, I left my village,” said Yuusuf,* a 56-year-old father of eight. “Currently, I have no fixed activity to feed my family. Before being internally displaced, I was a teacher, … but here I have no (students).”
On Dec. 1, 2021, World Renew and its local partner began providing food kits to displaced families in three camps. Adaeze, 30, a mother of five, said, “I was a beneficiary of the emergency program of World Renew and its partner. (I received) a kit consisting of 100 kilograms of rice, 40 kilograms of beans, and 5 liters of oil. Before this, my family hardly ate once a day, but with the arrival of this food my family eats three times a day.”
In this country, changing weather patterns have resulted in prolonged drought, and harvests have failed, further affecting food security. The United Nations estimates that more than 1.2 million people struggle with acute food insecurity and over 3.5 million are on the brink of food crisis.
The initial goal of the program, which ended Jan. 31, 2022, was to provide food to 50 of the most vulnerable households (300 people) for two months. But the conflict continues, and families continue to wake each day with the pain of hunger and hopelessness. Understanding the need, World Renew and its local partner extended the program.
Amara, 20, a mother of three, lamented, “Because of the growing insecurity in our region, my husband and I left our village. … A few days later, (there was) an accident in which we lost one of our children and a second was seriously injured.”
While the food kit cannot take away Amara’s pain, it eases the burden of worrying about how she’ll feed her surviving children. But the Ukraine-Russia conflict is now threatening World Renew’s ability to stand by commitments to support families like Amara’s. The consequences of conflict can be far-reaching.
The escalating conflict between Russia and Ukraine is contributing to a global food crisis that is pushing an increasing number of people into food insecurity. Russia and Ukraine are major producers of wheat, barley, maize, and oil, but the conflict has disrupted the supply chain and caused prices to skyrocket, straining budgets, including World Renew’s. These rising prices take the heaviest toll on countries in Asia, Africa, and the Near East, where the most vulnerable families were already struggling to meet their basic food needs.
To learn more about the emerging food crisis go to worldrenew.ca/global-food-crisis.
*For security reasons, the country cannot be identified and names have been changed.