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The world is in the midst of a global food crisis with projections showing that as many as 670 million people will still face hunger by 2030. Shocks from climate change, a global water crisis, loss of biodiversity, and other challenges continue to weaken food security and force more people into hunger.  

And while the current approach of responding to food crises through short-term measures – coupled with resilience building efforts – makes a difference, it is not sufficient to fully address all underlying factors causing the crisis. It is critical to transform global food systems so that they are conducive to healthy and resilient people, planet, and economies. 

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. 

For many around Komanda, life remains difficult. 

The Central African Republic, a landlocked nation in the heart of Africa, is one of the poorest and most fragile countries in the world. Of the 6.1 million people living there, more than 4.5 million (75%) depend on agriculture. Despite the importance of this sector, the country is plagued by food insecurity, with estimates showing that approximately 2 million people will face high levels of food insecurity between September 2023 and April 2024

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.  

The World Bank continues to work with CAR’s government to ensure people have enough food to feed the country today as well as the skills and equipment to move beyond subsistence farming, as Komanda did.

The Central African Republic Emergency Food Crisis Response Project is helping farmers like Komanda increase food production, while improving resilience of smallholder farmers and households who are facing food insecurity through the provision of agricultural assets and services, including crops, livestock, processing equipment, extension services and training. More than 3,200 tons of inputs have already helped nearly 36,000 farmers increase their crop production by 125% – boosting yields and preventing against future food shocks. 

"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.  

In Madagascar, poverty has been exacerbated by climate change – notably through droughts, late rains and locusts. These challenges are particularly devastating in the south of the country, where the sources of livelihoods are limited primarily to subsistence farming and fishing, and the poverty rate exceeds 90%. 

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.

Children await the arrival of World Bank President David Malpass and President of Madagascar Andry Rajoelina. Village of Soav

“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

Jordan and agriculture programs

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. 

Projects like this reservoir are helping Jordan improve the efficiency of water use in irrigated agriculture and building resilience to water scarcity and the impacts of climate change by increasing water use efficiency and reducing freshwater withdrawals overall. It has been estimated that if Jordan realized water-productivity levels similar to leaders in the region, it could maintain its current agricultural output while reducing its agricultural water allocation by between 10% and 30% every year.  

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. 

Agricultural production that is climate-smart, resilient, and widespread will be instrumental in overcoming food insecurity in Jordan – with increased investments in the agri-food sector driving rural job creation, a more robust agriculture value chain providing more economic opportunities, and enhanced resiliency through water projects like the one helping hydrate Muflih’s sheep improving the daily lives and livelihoods of people across Jordan today and into the future. 

“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.”

Learn More


Food & Agriculture at the World Bank

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Photo credit: IFC

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Photo: World Bank

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