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Food insecurity/drought

Food insecurity/drought

Last update: 2022-03-22

Key facts

  • Persistent food and nutrition insecurity continues to be a chronic problem globally. Almost half of deaths (45 per cent) among children under the age of five years around the world are linked to undernutrition (wasting, stunting, underweight).
  • Drought is the most common cause of food shortages. Other underlying factors include conflict, poverty, floods and lack of agricultural infrastructure. Drought is exacerbated by environmental degradation and climate change.
  • One of the main concerns with food insecurity is insufficient nutrient intake and subsequent malnutrition. Children and adults who are malnourished have an increased risk of severe forms of infections, and higher rates of morbidity and mortality.
  • Unlike rapid onset disasters, food insecurity has a gradual or slow onset. Response to food insecurity includes nutrition-specific interventions aimed at preventing or treating acute malnutrition, while including actions to address any existing drought and food insecurity. 

Main health impacts

Health concern Risk factors
Malnutrition including micronutrient deficiency   Insufficient nutrient intake, increased vulnerability to infection, morbidity and mortality. Vulnerable groups include children under five years, pregnant and lactating women (PLW), people with chronic illness such as HIV and tuberculosis and the elderly. 
Diarrhoeal diseases  Limited access to water supplies, hygiene and sanitation services can lead to diarrhoeal diseases.
Respiratory illnesses and skin diseases Significant population displacement following drought and overcrowded, communal emergency shelters, coupled with poor hygiene can lead to respiratory illnesses or skin diseases.