Detailed Findings & Methodology
Income plays a pivotal role in food security. For some countries, chronic food insecurity is primarily driven by poverty, Thome explained. According to data from global humanitarian organization Action Against Hunger, an estimated 383 million people in Africa are living on less than $1.90 a day. One factor preventing residents in a number of countries from earning steady incomes is ongoing armed conflict.
Civil unrest is a serious issue in sub-Saharan African countries, which comprise 11 of the 15 most food insecure countries on this list. War is highly disruptive to regional food production and supply. It also displaces millions, disrupting their sources of income. Thome said that many of the countries on this list “have a lot of challenges with conflict or civil unrest. So, not only does this physically disrupt the market, but it also affects or diminishes people’s livelihood.”
While the situations of many of these food-insecure nations may seem bleak, Thome expressed some optimism. She noted that prices of agricultural commodities “are relatively low and stable right now and that’s projected to continue, so that helps people because food is cheaper.”
Reviewing strong GDP growth projections in a number of low- and middle-income countries has also given Thome reason to believe that food security is attainable for some nations. Thome says that incomes in southern Asia, particularly Southeast Asia, have been on a steady incline.
Incomes are also growing quickly in West Africa and parts of East Africa. Thome predicts that this positive change in economic growth patterns will improve food security in these regions.
“As long as this economic growth is spreading around all people, then you’re going to see improvements in food security,” said Thome.
To determine the countries struggling the most with food insecurity, 24/7 Wall St. reviewed the percentage of the population that lacks access to the recommended daily 2,100 calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s International Food Security Assessment. We also considered a variety of social and economic data, such as GDP, agricultural production, and the share of residents in rural locations, from institutions like the World Bank and the International Monetary Fund. All figures listed are the most current for each country.
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