By Mario Lubetkin, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Latin America
and the Caribbean
According to the latest Global Report on Food Crises, in 2022, almost 258 million people in 58
countries faced the highest levels of acute food insecurity, which includes the categories of
“Crisis”, “Emergency”, and “Catastrophe”, meaning that it can range from malnutrition to the risk
of death due to lack of food.
The number of acutely food-insecure people in Latin America and the Caribbean reached 17.8
million. Haiti reports one of the most challenging situations, with 4.72 million people affected,
representing 26% of the region’s total.
This situation has led the affected regional population to take extreme measures, such as selling
their animals, eating seeds knowing very well that they will have nothing to plant later, selling
their homes, or begging for food, which turns into a spiral of vulnerability, particularly among the
Currently, many people suffering food crises depend on agricultural livelihoods for survival. This is
most critical for rural women. In a household with insufficient food, evidence indicates that
women will be worse off than men. There are also significant gaps in the food security of
The food crisis or emergency reported in the region in 2022 is mainly due to sev factors, such as
the war in Ukraine, the social and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, and the
impact of extreme weather events.
We must increase humanitarian efforts with populations that can no longer meet their minimum
food needs. But it is also essential to invest in agriculture and local food production, as this also
contributes to humanitarian work in contexts of food crises.
Currently, only four percent of humanitarian assistance in countries in food crisis goes to
agricultural and livelihood support. We must provide humanitarian aid to protect agricultural
livelihoods, act proactively on alerts anticipating the deterioration of an acute food insecurity
situation before it becomes an extreme emergency, ensure social protection for rural people, and
increase economic and climate resilience.
Investing in agriculture and the resources that sustain it is strategic and cost-effective. According
to our studies, the benefits of investing in agriculture can be ten times greater than if investing
only in food aid, and the effects can be prolonged over time. Without successful recovery and
sustainable development initiatives, there will be a perpetual need for urgent humanitarian action
and an increased risk of deterioration into a chronic emergency.
We must achieve these results with more coordinated efforts by international organizations,
governments, the private sector, regional organizations, civil society, and communities.