Disasters are a leading cause of hunger, affecting all aspects of food security: economic and physical access to food, availability and stability of supplies, and nutrition.

Disaster risk, Poverty And Food Insecurity

Disaster losses are accentuated in poor households and communities, and result in long-term consequences for food security.

More than 80 per cent of the world’s food insecure people live in countries that are prone to natural hazards. Most of these people have an alarmingly low asset base, depend on agriculture for a living and face increasing exposure to disaster risk, which is exacerbated by price volatility, population growth, land
and ecosystem degradation, climate change and other drivers.

What Happens When A Disaster Strikes

When a disaster strikes, impacts include loss of homes, productive assets, and crops, as well as destitution and displacement. Poor and vulnerable people often resort to negative coping mechanisms to manage the impacts of these disasters.

Disasters can quickly turn into a food and nutrition crisis, which can take several years for people to recover from, trapping them in a cycle of hunger and poverty, and preventing sustainable development and prosperity.

Disasters and Nutrition

Disasters have a significant impact on nutrition, in the immediate aftermath of a disaster and over the long term. Here are some key facts:

  • More than 20 percent of variation in height in developing countries is determined by environmental factors, particularly drought . Drought has severe impacts on dietary diversity and reduces overall food consumption.
  • In Zambia, children born in drought conditions are up to 12 percent more likely to have below-average height and weight than children born in non-crisis years.
  • In Niger, irrespective of the birth location, children born during a drought are more than twice as likely to be malnourished between the ages of 1 and 2.
  • Studies from Bangladesh show increased wasting and stunting rates among preschool children after floods, due to reduced access to food, increased difficulties in providing proper care and greater exposure to contaminants .
  • In the Philippines over the last two decades, 15 times as many infants have died in the 24 months following typhoon events as died in the typhoons themselves; most of them were infant girls.