The Coming Starvation
When you go to the store, you mostly put your food in the basket, pay for it, and go home. There is very little thought given to how food gets to your plate. Most of the time we do not need to worry about this.
This is relevant during disasters and pandemics. Recall the issues with toilet paper in the midst of the COVID pandemic? That was a failure in logistics. Not being able to get some electronic parts because of China’s Zero COVID policy is also a failure of logistics.
Right now we are having a more urgent one. Toilet paper is a problem. Not getting your electronics is as well. Closer to what we are facing globally is the formula shortage in the United States, which is closer to wheat from a logistics point of view. What we had here is a single point of failure in the logistics chain. Granted, a critical point of failure. The formula was a manufacturing plant. It was market concentration and lack of maintenance.
In Ukraine, because of the war, wheat is sitting in silos. It’s not moving. Ergo, global supplies for at-risk populations, in Sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America for example, are at risk.
UN Secretary-General António Guterres warned of this already.
Two weeks ago, I visited the Sahel region of Africa, where I met families who do not know where their next meal is coming from. Severe acute malnutrition — a wasting disease that can kill if left untreated — is rising. Farm animals are already dying of hunger. Leaders told me that, because of the war in Ukraine, on top of the other crises they face, they fear this dangerous situation could tip into catastrophe.
They are not alone. Global hunger levels are at a new high. In just two years, the number of severely food-insecure people has doubled, from 135 million pre-pandemic to 276 million today. More than half a million people are living in famine conditions — an increase of more than 500 per cent since 2016. As we will discuss in the Security Council tomorrow, these frightening figures are inextricably linked with conflict, as both cause and effect. If we do not feed people, we feed conflict.
The climate emergency is another driver of global hunger. Over the past decade, 1.7 billion people have been affected by extreme weather…