As heads of state and diplomatic delegations from around the world gather for this year’s United Nations General Assembly (UNGA), the IRC is calling for an urgent new approach to combating growing global hunger and malnutrition.

The hunger picture is dire globally. Acute food insecurity has more than doubled since 2019, with an estimated 345 million people now unable to meet their daily basic food needs. This insecurity has been exacerbated by the fallout from the war in Ukraine, the COVID-19 pandemic and the growing impact of the climate crisis on the world’s most vulnerable. Amidst this grim global outlook, there are hunger hotspots that demand immediate attention, particularly Somalia as a famine designation looms.  

“Famine can only be the result of human failure and inaction in the 21st century.” said David Miliband, President and CEO of the IRC.

“The alarms of early warning systems have been sounding for two years, but failed to catalyse prevention or mitigation efforts. The results of this inaction now are tragically clear, with six countries now on the brink of famine. Waiting for famine declarations to trigger action simply means aid will arrive too late for too many.

“At present, 300,000 people are predicted to face famine in Somalia by October unless immediate and sweeping action is taken to deliver aid to them and the 7.1 million people across that country in need of emergency food assistance. We know all too well what failure in this context looks like, mass displacement and tragic preventable deaths, disproportionately claiming the lives of young children. The impacts are generational - on communities, on families, on individuals. Global leaders cannot and must not fail to meet this moment and learn from it - to mean it when they say ‘never again’.”

To tackle the immediate crisis in East Africa and prevent famine in the most at-risk countries, IRC is calling on global leaders at this year’s UNGA to:  

The IRC is also calling on the international community to commit not only to crisis response but to adopting medium and long-term measures to respond to food crises. This includes investing in increasing resilience to cyclical food shocks, including climate adaptation financing to meet the needs of millions already living under the worst impacts of climate change and investing in established social safety net channels in countries deemed at high risk of famine to bolster livelihoods and resilience as checks against food insecurity.

IRC provides nutritional assistance programming to an estimated 2.5 million people  in more than 15 countries across Africa, the Middle East and Latin America. 

East Africa is home to some of the IRC’s longest-running programs globally, with operations in Somalia for over 40 years, Kenya for 30 years and Ethiopia for 20 years. Today, over 2,000 IRC staff in the region are scaling up our programmes to address the current drought and rising food insecurity, including expanding to new areas to meet severe needs.