North Africa and the Middle East register more than 52 million hungry


Chronic undernourishment increases in the region due to conflicts and low investment in the development of rural areas.

It is not a hungry person, there are dozens of hungry people; hundreds, thousands, millions. More than 52 million people suffer chronic undernourishment in the Middle East and North Africa, (an area called NENA and comprising 20 countries in the region), as detailed in the Regional Panorama of Food Security and Nutrition in the Middle East and North Africa, published this Wednesday by the United Nations Organization for Food and Agriculture (FAO). Far from shrinking, this number of millions of empty stomachs and starvation grows over the years. “Hunger increases as conflicts and protracted crises spread and worsen since 2011,” FAO reports. From that year to 2017, hunger has increased in seven million people suffering from chronic food deprivation.

Violence remains the main driver of the problem. “More than two thirds of the hungry people in NENA, approximately 34 million, live in countries affected by conflict,” the agency reports. This highlights the consequences of internal struggles in civil society. The text details that the majority of those affected are in Iraq, Libya, Syria, Sudan and Yemen. “This is not a new situation,” the latest estimates show that in the 1999-2001 period, 58% of the people suffering from undernutrition in the NENA region lived in the same five countries, which has grown steadily 16 years, and between 2015 and 2017 has increased to 65% “, the study highlights, which highlights that under these circumstances of violence worsens growth retardation, low weight for height (wasting) and malnutrition.


Algeria, Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Egypt, United Arab Emirates, Iran, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia and Yemen.

“The impact of the conflict has caused disruptions in food and livestock production in some countries, which, in turn, has affected the availability of food throughout the region,” said Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, Deputy Director General of FAO and representative for the Middle East and North Africa, after the publication of the report, which details that the other 18.1 million people with chronic undernourishment of the studied area reside in countries in which there is no conflict. The best positioned in this area are Kuwait, Oman, United Arab Emirates, Mauritania, Tunisia and Lebanon, which do not reach the thousand affected. The text breaks down the information published last September with the world data and also highlights the prevalence of adult obesity in the region, which reaches 26.7% in general and is 29.3% in areas where there are no conflicts. The levels are higher in high income countries.

Rural transformation

In a dynamic that affects more places on the planet, the disconnection of rural and urban areas also hinders the development of those who live in them. “Unemployment, especially among youth and women of all ages, is a major challenge in the region and, often, much higher than in other parts of the world.” This is compounded by gaps between the countryside and rural areas. cities, with significant disparities in living standards and poverty rates, and by differences in labor productivity between traditional agriculture and industry and services, “reports the FAO.

The text proposes better market access for farmers, promoting investment in agriculture, transferring technology and other innovations, more effective and more efficient management of water resources, and key policy changes that support the transformation of subsistence farming into systems of commercial and diversified production. “What is needed is a change in policies that prioritize agriculture and the sustainable management of natural resources, particularly water,” states FAO representative Ould Ahmed.

“Reports claim that the region has significant potential in rural transformation that can help improve food security, employment and alleviate poverty.The region has a wealth of resources, including skills, market and geographical position. Farmers in the region have a long history and experience in agriculture and food production, “contextualized the technician, noting that only a part of locally produced food is transformed,” while several countries in the region have become champions of horticulture exports, “he adds.

Notify of
Inline Feedbacks
View all comments