The importance of food security in crises
Hunger and malnutrition are often caused by natural disasters and conflict. Drought can destroy crops, causing food prices to skyrocket, or violent conflict may force people to flee their homes, farms and livelihoods.
UNOCHA estimates that up to 811 people in the world are malnourished. Acute hunger is increasing not only in scale but also in severity. According to WFP, 41 million people worldwide are now at risk of falling into famine or famine-like conditions unless they receive immediate life and livelihood-saving assistance.
In this context, CARE International works to provide life saving food, nutrition, and medical care for malnourished people. We build the ability of communities to mitigate and cope with future emergencies. This includes promoting environmental sustainability and empowering people economically so that they are better prepared for difficult times.
Humanitarian crises often cause food shortages in households, a weak maternal and childcare environment, and poor public health services. Combined, these factors can cause inadequate food intake and disease for individuals, ultimately resulting in malnutrition and death.
In the event of humanitarian crises, the following will be affected:
- Food availability: Quantities and varieties of food available in the area may have been affected and not be enough. Food stocks, production, supply systems and markets may not be adequate or functioning optimally.
- Food access: A household’s own production, income, purchasing power, transfer from other sources and livelihood assets may have been disrupted or eroded. Households may not be able to access enough food without losing productive assets, which will have long-term effects on their livelihoods.
- Food utilization: People may have access to food but may not be able to utilize it efficiently and effectively due to several factors (for example, by not having fuel or containers to cook). People’s nutritional status may also be affected, as emergencies may change a person’s food consumption and/or public health conditions and care practices.