A high dependence on agriculture, as measured by the number of people employed in the sector,
leaves the PoU 9.6 percentage points higher (25 percent). For low-income countries, the
increase is equal to 13.6 percentage points (29 percent).
The finding is different for middle-income countries where the rise in PoU is less pronounced
and occurs later (from 2015–2016). This tends to indicate that middle-income countries were
able to absorb the impacts of increased exposure to climate extremes, but may not have been
able to cope as well in the 2015–2016 period, possibly due to the severity of exposure to El
Other factors may have also come into play during this period, for example the economic
slowdowns that many Latin American countries experienced, which reduced the fiscal
environment to implement social programmes and thus diminished these countries’ capacity to
cope with the aftermath of extreme climate events.
Extreme events & food crises
While hunger is on the rise, it is equally alarming that the number of people facing
crisis-level food insecurity continues to increase.
In 2017, almost 124 million people across 51 countries and territories faced “crisis”
levels of acute food insecurity or worse, requiring immediate emergency action to safeguard
their lives and preserve their livelihoods. This represents an increase compared to 2015
and 2016, when 80 and 108 million people, respectively, faced crisis levels.
Climate related disasters account now for more than 80 percent of all major internationally
In 34 of these 51 countries, more than 76 percent of the total populations facing crisis
levels of acute food insecurity or worse – nearly 95 million people – were also affected by
climate shocks and extremes. Where conflict and climate shocks occur together, the impact on
acute food insecurity is more severe. In 2017, 14 out of the 34 food-crisis countries
experienced the double impact of both conflict and climate shocks, which led to significant
increases in the severity of acute food insecurity.
Floods cause more climate-related disasters globally than any other extreme climate event,
with flood-related disasters seeing the highest increase – 65 percent – in occurrence over
the last 25 years. The frequency of storms is not increasing as much as that of floods, but
storms are the second most frequent driver of climate-related disasters.
Climate variability impact on all dimensions of Food
The majority of people most vulnerable to climate shocks and natural hazards are the world’s
2.5 billion small-scale farmers, herders, fishers and forest-dependent communities, who
derive their food and income from renewable natural resources.
In 2015-2016, the drought caused by El Ni?o resulted in losses of 50-90 percent of the crop
harvest in the dry corridor, especially in El Salvador, Honduras and Guatemala.
Climate variability and extremes have the strongest direct impact on food
availability, given the sensitivity of agriculture to climate and the primary role of
the sector as a source of food and livelihoods for the rural poor. However, the overall
fallout is far more complex and greater than the impacts on agricultural productivity alone.
Climate variability and extremes are undermining all dimensions of food security: food
availability (with losses in productivity that undermine food production and increase food
imports); food access (causing spikes in food prices and volatility, especially following
climate extremes, income loss for those who depend on agriculture); food utilization and
food safety (worsened or reduced dietary consumption, reduced quality and safety of food
because of crop contamination, outbreaks of pests and diseases because of rainfall intensity
or changes in temperature.