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War in Ukraine Likely to Exacerbate Food Insecurity in FEWS NET-Monitored Countries

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  • for immediate release: May 04, 2022
War in Ukraine Likely to Exacerbate Food Insecurity in FEWS NET-Monitored Countries

The Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) has released its latest analysis of forecasted acute food insecurity impacts of the Russian invasion of Ukraine. The report includes an analysis of current and anticipated food security outcomes in Ukraine, current and projected effects on global markets, and expected impacts in select other countries of concern.

“FEWS NET analysts assessed the current status of the conflict and used available secondary data and analyses – including from IFPRI and NASA Harvest – to make projections regarding how the ongoing invasion is likely to impact supplies of staple food items, both in Ukraine and internationally,” a FEWS NET analyst said. “In many parts of eastern Ukraine, typical livelihood and business activities have been significantly disrupted during a key time in the agricultural season. Meanwhile, in other countries monitored by FEWS NET – several of which are already experiencing concerning levels of acute food insecurity – reduced exports of staple food items like wheat, maize, and sunflower seed oil from Ukraine are likely to exacerbate already concerning conditions.”

According to the analysis, an estimated 5-10 percent of the Ukrainian population will likely need urgent humanitarian food assistance to prevent food consumption gaps and the loss of essential livelihood options under the invasion scenario analyzed. In cities under siege, some are relying on dwindling household food supplies, though many whose homes have been damaged or destroyed are living in shelters without such resources.

To protect the nation’s supply of food and other essential goods, the government of Ukraine has taken several measures to promote imports, restrict exports, and boost strategic food reserves. Given levels of stocks in the country and some additional anticipated summer production, the national food supply will likely be sufficient to support the population. However, supply chain disruptions and sieges by Russian forces will likely continue to reduce food availability in some areas and drive localized severe shortages for at least the near term.

“Ukraine experienced a bumper harvest in the 2020/2021 production season, meaning the harvest was more productive than anticipated,” a FEWS NET analyst explained. “Because of this – and due to the fact that Ukraine is a surplus food producing country – existing food reserves will likely be sufficient to support the population. However, what remains to be seen are the impacts of Russia’s targeted attacks on agricultural machinery and land, in addition to disruptions to livelihoods as a result of Ukraine’s inability to export the same level of staple food items as it has in the past.”

Despite uncertainty in production levels, significant reductions in Ukraine’s export capacity and additional export restrictions will likely remain the key factors limiting supply to global markets, should the current limitations persist through the harvest period. Overall, global supply of cereals and oil seed products will likely contract given the expected sharp decline in Ukrainian exports and potential slight reduction in Russian exports.

Higher prices of energy and agricultural inputs are causing food prices to rise as the increased costs are pushed onward to consumers. These shocks could exacerbate the scale and severity of existing food insecurity in many countries at a time when poor households’ coping capacity is already low due to the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic and rising global prices.

“FEWS NET will continue to monitor countries that are already experiencing some degree of acute food insecurity, and particularly those dependent on imports, as it is expected that these countries will be most vulnerable to the global supply shortages and price shocks occurring as a result of Russia’s war on Ukraine,” a FEWS NET analyst said. “These countries likely do not have internal food reserves to fall back on, and higher prices of key food items from alternative markets make it less likely that they will be able to source their imports elsewhere. The international community will need to work in the coming months to help fill the gaps and ensure that existing crises aren’t compounded any further.”

Among FEWS NET monitored countries, specific food security impacts of the war in Ukraine are currently highest for Ethiopia, Sudan, and Somalia, in East Africa; Nigeria and Burkina Faso in West Africa; Madagascar and Zimbabwe in Southern Africa; Nicaragua in Central America; Yemen; and Afghanistan. For more details on country-specific impacts of the ongoing war in Ukraine, please reference page 17 of FEWS NET’s Ukraine Targeted Analysis

The full report and ongoing analysis of Ukraine is available via the FEWS NET Ukraine Crisis page. FEWS NET’s future country-specific reporting will also include Ukraine-related impacts.

Contacts

Hannah Button
Communications Lead
Famine Early Warning Systems Network
hbutton@fews.net

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