Director of the emergency division at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Dominique Burgeon, said latest studies revealed 102 million people faced acute malnutrition – meaning they were on the brink of starvation – in 2016, up almost 30 per cent from 80 million in 2015.
The hike was mainly driven by deepening crises in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, where conflict and drought have crippled food production, he said.
The U.N. World Food Programme said last month more than 20 million people – greater than the population of Romania or Florida – risk dying from starvation within six months in four separate famines.
Wars in Yemen, northeastern Nigeria and South Sudan have devastated households and driven up prices, while a drought in east Africa has ruined the agricultural economy.
Famine was formally declared in February in parts of South Sudan, which has been mired in civil war since 2013.
He however stated that more investment is needed to help people feed themselves by farming crops and livestock.