Special Report

Countries Where People Don’t Get Enough to Eat

Source: guenterguni / Getty Images

5. DR Congo
> Pct. food insecure: 83.9%
> Projected pct. food insecure, 2028: 75.2%
> Total population: 85.3 million

Nearly 84% of the population of the Democratic Republic of Congo is unable to consume the recommended 2,100 calories a day. Recurring violence and conflict in the country has led to significant population displacement, a common cause of food insecurity. Currently, 4.5 million Congolese have been forced to flee their homes and live elsewhere in the country.

The typical person from DR Congo eats about 1,159 calories day, a 941 calorie-difference from the recommended 2,100 calories. This is the largest food gap among all 76 countries considered.

Source: hdptcar / Flickr

4. The Central African Republic
> Pct. food insecure: 84.1%
> Projected pct. food insecure, 2028: 80.7%
> Total population: 5.7 million

The Central African Republic’s food security issues worsened significantly in 2012, when violence from the 2004 CAR Bush War resurged. Roughly 84.1% of the country’s population struggles to get a sufficient amount to eat.

The ongoing conflict and the problems that have arisen from it — including food insecurity — poses serious risks to the health of the country’s population. CAR has the highest death rate of all 76 low- and middle-income countries considered, at 14 out of every 1,000 people each year.

Source: yeowatzup / Wikimedia Commons

3. Yemen
> Pct. food insecure: 86.0%
> Projected pct. food insecure, 2028: 77.7%
> Total population: 28.7 million

Last year, Yemen was the most food insecure nation among the 76 countries that have received food aid from the United States, with 88.3% of the population not having enough to eat. This year, that rate dropped slightly to 86.0%, which pushed the country back to the third most food insecure. Yemen is in the midst of a civil war, with ongoing aerial bombings by Saudi Arabia. The war has effectively destroyed the country’s economy and led to the displacement of about 2 million. Hundreds of thousands of Yemeni children are starving as a result.

The USDA predicts that in a decade, the food insecurity rate in Yemen will drop to 77.7%.

Source: guenterguni / Getty Images

2. Burundi
> Pct. food insecure: 87.2%
> Projected pct. food insecure, 2028: 90.0%
> Total population: 11.8 million

Like many sub-Saharan African countries on this list, political unrest is a driving factor in food insecurity in Burundi. As a country that has been in the midst of an ongoing political crisis since 2015, more than 87% of the population is food insecure — a 7 percentage point increase from the year prior. The country has been mired in an internal political conflict since President Pierre Nkurunziza was elected into his third term three years ago. As a result, many were killed and displaced. Unlike many of the countries on this list, problems with access to a sufficient diet are expected to worsen in Burundi in the coming years. The USDA projects that by 2028, the food insecurity rate will increase to 90.0%.

Source: hugy / Getty Images

1. Eritrea
> Pct. food insecure: 90.4%
> Projected pct. food insecure, 2028: 89.0%
> Total population: 6.0 million

Eritrea is the most food insecure nation among the 76 low- and middle-income nations that have a history of food aid from the United States. More than 90% of the population has insufficient access to food. After a war that spanned 30 years, Eritrea finally gained independence from Ethiopia in 1993. However, ongoing conflict along with drought has crippled the country’s agriculture-based economy.

If the USDA estimates prove to be true, the future for Eritrea remains bleak. The USDA projects that the food insecurity rate will only improve by 1.4 percentage points by 2028.

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