COVID-19 could force over 19 million people, half of them children, into famine across 12 countries

  • 50% increase in the numbers of people at risk of starvation compared to last year
  • Only 29% of funding needed to prevent this has been provided
  • Secondary impacts of COVID-19 combined with conflict & natural disasters creating a life-threatening hunger emergency

International aid agency World Vision today warned that over 19 million people, including 10 million children, are at risk of famine in 12 of the world’s most fragile countries due to a deadly mix of conflict, the economic impacts of COVID -19 and climate-related natural disasters.

The NGO fears that if the international community does not increase funding to meet urgent food needs in these and other fragile contexts, millions could die. Only around 29% of the budget needed to prevent potential famine has been received so far.

Andrew Morley, World Vision International President and CEO, said: “Children across the world face devastating hunger every single day. The signs are clear to see. A number of countries are at risk of being plunged into famine situations. We need funds to support children across the world – and we need them right now.”

Countries that were dealing with crises such as conflict before the COVID-19 pandemic are at the greatest risk of famine.  Democratic Republic of Congo, a country mired in conflict for decades, now has 5.7million people at risk of starvation. This represents a 77% increase when compared to 2019.

COVID-19 is one more shock for the most vulnerable children living in fragile contexts who face multiple crises, including armed conflict, which deeply affect their access to nutritious food.”

“Restrictions put in place to contain the spread of the virus continue to hit the incomes of poor families the hardest, meaning they don’t have enough money to purchase food. Conflict and COVID-19 are a disastrous combination, making it incredibly difficult to get help to the children and families who need it most. There is no social welfare safety net to support these people and that’s why the international community must urgently step up,” said Mr Morley

Acute hunger has been climbing for the past 4 years, reaching a peak of 135 million in 2019 due to a deadly mix of conflict and increased climate and economic shocks—COVID-19 has pushed this trend into overdrive. In April 2020 the Head of the World Food Programme warned that the number of people facing acute hunger could double due to COVID-19. World Vision is extremely concerned by the fact that the  numbers of people facing starvation and severe malnutrition in the countries we refer to has increased by 50% in one year.

“We are facing an imminent crisis – children of the world need us now. The number of children at risk of famine because they cannot access nutritious food has increased by 50% in one year. We must stop at nothing to prevent a potential famine that could rob them of a future and their God-given potential,” said Mr Morley.


Note to editor

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Niamh Cooper |  Director of Media and Social Media Engagement | | Skype: Niamh.cooper5 | Phone: +353 87 942 3371

Countries included in this research are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso,Central African Republic, Ethiopia, DRC, Haiti, Honduras,Nigeria(North east), South Sudan, Sudan, Somalia, Zimbabwe, 

World Vision is the UN World Food Programme’s largest NGO partner. In 2019, the WV-WFP partnership reached almost 11 million people, 53% of whom were children, in 29 countries

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice. World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender. For more information, please visit or follow us on Twitter @WorldVision