UN World Food Programme

7 Facts About Climate Change And Hunger

Changing weather patterns and more frequent disasters will take a heavy toll on the world's poor, pushing many over the edge into hunger. Copyright: WFP/Marcus Prior

Representatives from nearly 200 countries are currently gathered in Durban, South Africa, for high-level talks on climate change. When it comes to protecting the world’s poorest inhabitants from the erratic weather and natural disasters that many scientists expect in coming years, hunger is a key part of the discussion. Here are seven facts that explain why.

DURBAN — Experts agree that the world’s poor, women and girls in particular, will bear the brunt of the effects of climate change. As rainfall becomes increasingly unpredictable, smallholder farmers will find it harder than ever to grow the food they need. And if natural disasters become more frequent, it will be the poorest victims that are most exposed to hunger because they have no support structures to protect them.

Why is WFP at COP17?
click to play movie

WFP Deputy Executive Director Sheila Sisulu explains why WFP is attending the COP17 Climate Change Conference in Durban, South Africa. Watch interview


What we're saying at COP17

  • More frequent natural disasters threaten to increase hunger and malnutrition. The world's poorest will be affected most of all, particularly women and girls.
  • Social safety net” programmes prevent hunger and malnutrition during and after weather shocks.
  • WFP’s sophisticated tools help governments and communities predict the onset of natural disasters, prepare for them and cushion their impact.

Here are seven facts about climate and climate change which show how closely intertwined they are with global hunger.

FACT 1. By 2050, climate change is expected to increase the risk of hunger by 10-20 percent compared to a no-climate change scenario . 

FACT 2. By 2050 we can expect 24 million more malnourished children as a result of climate change.  Almost half of this increase, 10 million children, will be in sub-Saharan Africa. 

FACT 3. Between 1980 and 2006 the number of climate-related disasters has quadrupled.

FACT 4.The number of people affected by climate-related disasters is expected to reach 375 million per year by 2015. 

FACT 5. In 2010, climate-related extreme events and disasters affected some 300 million people, most often in countries which have little capacity to cope.

FACT 6. With climate change, two thirds of the arable land in Africa could be lost by 2025, according to the UN Food and Agriculture Organization.

FACT 7. By 2030, climate change could push food prices up by 50-90 percent more than they would otherwise be expected to rise, according to a recent report by Oxfam.

click to play movieHow one Ethiopian farmer helped her community become more resilient

Ethiopia's MERET project, supported by WFP, helps poor farmers manage land better, so that it becomes more productive and is not lost to degradation. Hiwot Gebre-Tsadkan explains how it changed her life. Watch video