Fragile Contexts

Goats under a thorn tree in the Nubian desert, near the abandoned pyramids of Meroe, an ancient city on the east bank of the River Nile, in northern Sudan. Meroe was the capital of the Kingdom of Kush for several centuries. The pyramids are funerary elements of the necropolis for the Nubian kings and queens, also known as the Black Pharaohs. It is a UNESCO world heritage site. There are more pyramids in Sudan than in Egypt. The Nubian Desert is in the eastern region of the Sahara Desert, between the Nile and the Red Sea.

Related documents

Launch webinar

Press release

1.8 billion people live in fragile regions with high societal, economic, environmental, political and security risks. By 2030, this is projected to reach 2.3 billion, and will include 80% of the global poor (OECD). The consequences of these risks, magnified by the COVID-19 pandemic, include unpredictable food supplies, price volatility, high input costs, disrupted markets and limited food safety regulation, all of which will leave many people unable to access healthy diets

The need for action

A range of political, social, economic and environmental challenges often coalesce in fragile settings. Promoting healthy and sustainable diets can be seen as a second-order concern when so many individuals are hungry. The brief highlights the reasons why conflict and climate change are mutually linked with food system fragility and are two of the most important factors which are driving recent increases in global levels of undernourishment.

When dealing with the food system challenges presented in fragile contexts, policymakers must rethink their approach, paying specific attention to nourishing populations rather than just addressing hunger. This will require better links between humanitarian and development actors to support actions across all domains of the food system to increase access to healthy diets.

The Global Panel’s Policy Brief

The new Policy Brief 'Strengthening Food Systems in Fragile Contexts' argues that the international community, and policymakers in fragile low- and middle-income countries, must put greater emphasis on making food systems more resilient to the many negative forces contributing to fragility today.

While saving lives and livelihoods in crises must remain a humanitarian imperative, steps can be taken, even in fragile settings, to make food systems more capable of providing healthy and sustainable diets for all.

Rather than proposing new policy actions, this brief recommends priorities which incorporate a combination of interventions with particular focus on the 'missing middle' between consumer demand and supply.

“Single hazards are a major challenge to reducing poverty and malnutrition but the combined impact of multiple hazards can be devastating. COVID-19 has further amplified these and risks pushing fragile food systems further into nutritional crisis.”

Dr Agnes Kalibata, Special Envoy to the UN Food Systems Summit and Global Panel Member