After six months of fighting between Russia and Ukraine – two farming powerhouses – a teetering global food system was plunged into a full-blown catastrophe, leaving millions of people facing starvation.
The war between Russia and Ukraine is already fueled by climate change, soaring living costs, and a fertilizer price hike that is causing the most extreme global food crisis we have seen in decades. A U.N. brokered an agreement to reopen the Black Sea for food ships may not be enough to relieve millions of people struggling to eat across the Middle East, Asia, and Africa.
“I’ve been working in this sector now for more than 15 years, and this, for me, is the worst crisis we’ve seen,” said the executive director of the Shamba Center, Carin Smaller, a think tank working to end global hunger.
An exclusive U.N. crisis task force is monitoring more than 60 countries that are struggling to pay for food imports. High energy prices and volatility in the food markets have put extra pressure on cash-strapped developing countries.
Humanitarian agencies struggle to prepare themselves for even more critical hunger levels as they face a 14 billion annual gap in food security spending. Moscow’s war in Europe’s breadbasket has severely rocked global food markets, forcing humanitarian agencies to slash food ration in countries like Yemen.
The numerous ships that have “braved the maritime corridor” have primarily been those that have been stuck in Ukraine since the outbreak of war, and enormous challenges remain to get vessels to arrive in numbers, including U.N.-chartered ships carrying food aid.
“When there’s a crisis, there’s always a big readiness to do emergency relief, which will not create sustainable development but prevent people from dying. When it’s about creating resilience, about long-term financing development, it’s more difficult to mobilize funds,” says the vice president of the International Fund for Agricultural Development, Dominik Ziller.