The World Bank is taking a multi-pronged approach to these challenges, supporting production and producers, increasing trade in food and agriculture inputs, supporting vulnerable households, and investing in sustainable food and nutrition to help countries not simply address food-related emergencies, but create sustainable solutions so that the next emergency is avoided.
The Challenges of Food Insecurity
Coping with Emergency in the Central African Republic
Tatiana Komanda is a farmer in the Central African Republic (CAR). She spends her days preparing food for her family, tending to her fields and household gardens, and selling her produce at the local market.
“When I was at my parents’ house, they taught me how to farm. I grew up with this practice and, once married, I continue it with my husband.”
This practice has served Komanda well and today she is able to support her family and – most critically for her – send her children to school.
“The money I receive from the sale of my products allows my children to move forward in life. For example, I can pay for school and clothes. I can buy them shoes. I am happy with my life – I am happy to see that my children are studying.”
But it hasn’t always been like this. In previous years, Komanda had difficulties securing enough food to even feed her family, let alone sell extra produce at the market.
The challenges people face every day in CAR were intensified by the invasion of Ukraine last year, which provides crucial grain supplies to countries across Africa. Meanwhile, the ongoing climate crisis continues to threaten long-term agricultural prospects in the country. The increasing severity of droughts and floods that CAR has experienced in recent years means a staggering 75% of the population will soon be vulnerable to the impacts of climate change. Food security has tipped to the point of emergency.
“Before, our life was difficult. Even finding food was difficult,” says Komanda, who vividly remembers her struggles with food insecurity in the past.
"Before, our life was difficult. Even finding food was difficult.”
Komanda, farmer in the Central African Republic
Rise Up: Moving to medium-term resilience in Madagascar
While responding to emergencies created by food insecurity and ensuring populations have enough food for their daily lives is critical, the need to help countries and individuals increase their resiliency to avoid the next emergency is an equally important piece in this development puzzle.
Here, humanitarian programs have been present for years, primarily focusing on short-term emergencies. In response to a recent drought, the World Bank worked with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) to deliver two rounds of emergency cash transfers to nearly 600,000 people while an additional 480,000 were provided with fresh water in coordination with UNICEF.
These programs have been crucial in addressing the myriad emergencies that have struck the region over the decades, but have been limited in facilitating longer-term risk reduction and self-reliance. In recognition of the need for initiatives that address both the urgent challenges people face from natural disasters, as well as better prepare for them for future shocks , the World Bank is working with partners in the country as part of the Support for Resilient Livelihoods in the South Project (MIONJO).
Drawing on lessons learned from World Bank-financed and donor projects, as well as the experiences of civil society organizations in southern Madagascar, the MIONJO project – which means “rise up” in local dialect – is improving access to basic infrastructure and livelihood opportunities and strengthening local governance – with a primary focus on youth and women. The project works at the commune level to build a long-term and integrated approach to help southern Madagascar transition from humanitarian aid to sustainable development.
“At lunchtime I'm relaxed because my daughter goes to school and eats at school,” says Hariette Rasoanomenjanahary, a mother who sends her daughter, Christoline, to primary school near Ambovombe, and is one of the 800,000 women who are anticipated to benefit from the project – including 200,000 young women.
The MIONJO project provided seeds for the school so that they can grow their own crops and provide meals for the children who attend. As part of the project, the school also works with the World Food Programme to provide other food staples, such as rice and cereals, and support the kitchen staff. Hariette Rasoanomenjanahary has learned to use the crops from the school garden to prepare meals, creating virtuous circles and strengthening food security for the community.
“Our life has changed a little between before and now because my daughter can now eat at school.”
My land: Jordan and long-term resilience
More than 3,500 miles north of Christoline’s school, Muflih Al-Shurafat (Abu Ayed) tends to his flock of sheep in Jordan, leading them to water in a freshly dug reservoir – part of the World-Bank funded Agriculture Resilience, Value Chain Development and Innovation Program, known as ARDI, which is Arabic for “my land.”
“Before the project, we suffered from water scarcity here,” says Muflih.
“We had limited water supply, so we used to travel by car to bring water. It was a long journey by car. But now, we have a well here that provides us with water…and now our livestock can drink water comfortably without any difficulties.”
In addition to helping Muflih and his fellow herders save time and energy, this reservoir – which captures water from a nearby spring which had previously been uncollected – provides a consistent source of hydration for livestock in the area, ensures further sustainability, and helps the country move away from emergency food insecurity to more resilient and prosperous livelihoods.
The importance of these conservation techniques and other sustainability initiatives cannot be overstated in Jordan, a country that sits on the second saltiest body of water in the world (the Dead Sea) and features desert for approximately three-quarters of its total land. Furthermore, global warming, increased water scarcity, and population growth intensified by refugees fleeing the Syrian civil war also putting increasing pressure on food security in Jordan.
“Now our livestock can drink water comfortably without any difficulties. We no longer suffer from water scarcity. It used to be challenging for them to find water, but now they can easily drink water and benefit from this project. It has brought us a lot of relief in terms of our daily routines.”
Agriculture can help reduce poverty, raise incomes and improve food security for 80% of the world's poor, who live in rural areas and work mainly in farming. The World Bank Group is a leading financier of agriculture.
IFC’s Global Food Security Platform will seek to reduce volatility in food markets through emergency financing to farmers, commodity traders, food and feed processors, and other private players that face restricted funding and sudden spikes in costs that are limiting their operations. Learn More.
Growing instances of climate shocks, loss of biodiversity and marine and coastal ecosystems, and the global water crisis have all contributed to an increasingly food-insecure world. The COVID-19 pandemic further disrupted global supply chains, driving food prices upward.
As part of a comprehensive, global response to the food security crisis, in April 2022 the World Bank announced that it is making up to $30 billion available over a period of 15 months, including $12 billion in new projects. Explore the latest updates to our global food security situation.