Major risks of famine were averted in Yemen, Somalia, South Sudan and North Nigeria last year, but millions faced acute food insecurity and huge challenges remain ahead, according to the Global Report on Food Crises.

European Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, Neven Mimica, presented the report in Rome on March 22. “Thanks to local and international efforts, including in the most critical hotspots, we were able to avert major famines,” she said. “But let us be clear: we still have huge challenges ahead of us, and the EU will continue to work relentlessly for food security around the world. When future generations look back on this time in history, I want to say that we were not only able to diagnose the problem, but we were also able to prescribe the right solutions.”

Tibor Navracsics, Commissioner for Education, Culture, Youth and Sport, responsible for the Joint Research Centre, added: “Food crises remain one of the most pressing catastrophes worldwide. In Africa alone, over a hundred million people are facing food insecurity with some on the brink of famine. Unfortunately, there is no simple solution. The scientific rigour applied by the Joint Research Centre in compiling the annual report on food crises will help us diagnose the problems correctly and propose the best policies.”

The report shows that, in 2017, almost 124m people faced levels of acute food insecurity or worse. The report finds that in the future, food crises are likely to become more acute, persistent and complex. Among the main root causes for severe food insecurity, it cites conflict, extreme climatic events and excessive prices of staple foods – these factors are often acting together.

“World hunger is on the rise again,” warned Christos Stylianides, Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management. “The EU is one of the world’s leading donors in humanitarian food assistance. We are now strengthening a coordinated response, covering humanitarian and development aspects, to face the increasing complexity of crises. It is only by working together that we can become the architects of a future without hunger.”

To tackle the root causes of these pressing challenges, the EU is working to implement a long-term strategy, taking into account humanitarian aid, development assistance and peace building support in an integrated way – and thereby increasing the resilience of people and communities in partner countries.

To implement this strategy, the European Union supports measures to improve food and nutrition security and sustainable agriculture in over 60 partner countries, providing approximately €8.5bn of funding between 2014 and 2020. For the four major food crises in 2017 in particular, the European Union contributed over €750m to joint humanitarian and development support, and EU member states additionally provided over €1bn.