Global survey reveals public believes conflict is the main cause of hunger

20 Oct 2023 by World Vision
Global survey reveals public believes conflict is the main cause of hunger

  • Almost half of adults worldwide believe conflict or war is the main cause of hunger
  • 80 percent of parents are concerned about child hunger and malnutrition
  • Four in ten parents say their children don’t get enough proper nutrients each day
  • One-fifth of children have gone to bed hungry in the last month
A new global survey for World Vision reveals that nearly half of people believe conflict is the driving force behind hunger.

The Ipsos research comes as violence escalates in the occupied Palestine territory and Israel; the war in Ukraine rolls on; thousands flee Sudan due to armed clashes; ongoing hostilities in Ethiopia; and people in Afghanistan cope with the devastation of recent earthquakes on top of decades of violence.

The research carried out in 16 high, middle, and low-income countries, also reveals that almost one in five surveyed say that conflict is to blame for their own children going hungry. People in conflict-affected countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (44%), Chad (32%), and Iraq (35%) were the most likely to cite conflict and war as the main reason for child hunger.

The World Food Programme (WFP) identifies conflict as the number one driver of hunger, with nearly 70% of the world's hungriest people living in conflict-affected areas.

World Vision’s leader for Advocacy, Dana Buzducea, says recent events highlight the devastating impact of conflict.

“In the past few weeks we have seen the escalation of tensions in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territory, and it is the children who suffer the most. We hear about casualties and structural damage, but what is less reported is the devastating impact that conflict has on increasing levels of hunger and malnutrition for children,” she says.

World Vision New Zealand national director, Grant Bayldon, says conflict is destroying the lives of millions of children globally.

“Many cannot access basic services such as health and education, and millions are left hungry in the aftermath of conflict and war. Often when the media lens leaves a conflict zone, families are left to survive with little or no means of feeding their children. It is a silent crisis,” he says.

The Ipos survey also finds that almost four in ten parents or guardians say their children are not getting the proper nutrients they need on a daily basis.

Released for World Food Day, Not Enough: Global Perceptions on Child Hunger and Malnutrition, also reveals that one-fifth of children have gone to bed hungry in the past month.

Parents in lower-income countries such as Chad (66%), Malawi (64%) and the Democratic Republic of Congo (63%) were more likely to worry about hunger and malnutrition, but roughly one-fifth of parents or guardians in Germany (24%), the United States (20%), Australia (19%), Canada (18%) and South Korea (17%) also say their children don’t receive the nutrients they need on a daily basis.

Bayldon says the survey shows that most people are worried about hunger and malnutrition no matter where they live.

“Hunger and malnutrition are global concerns, but this burden is not shared equally around the world. Parents in low-income countries are much more likely to struggle to find food on a daily basis compared with parents here in New Zealand, Australia, or the USA.

“However, it’s clear that we’re all affected by increases in food prices, an unequal food system which has been disrupted by conflict, and the impact of the climate crisis on crops and farming. We need comprehensive solutions for the sake of the world’s hungry children,” he says.

Globally, nearly half of adults have worried about finding the money to buy food and this rises to nearly four-fifths in low-income countries. During the past 30 days, three in 10 respondents did not know where their next meal would come from.

However, World Vision New Zealand’s Country Programme Manager, Andy Robinson, says the research also provided some hope for the future.

Most global citizens (89%) firmly believe that we all have a responsibility to end world hunger and if governments, citizens, and NGOs work together, it will be possible to end child hunger and malnutrition.

In the past 12 months. many of those surveyed have given food to someone in need (43%), supported a hungry family locally (26%), or donated to a charity which provides food for the hungry (21%).

“The public believes that with the will, there is a way to reduce hunger levels, and ensure no child dies because they do not have enough to eat,” Robinson says.

“We know that conflict is often the reason that children are prevented from accessing nutritious food so it’s essential that the international community prioritises peace and does everything in its power to bring an end to violent conflict so that all children, no matter where they were born, can lead fulfilling lives.”

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