Ration cuts accelerating hunger crisis, leading to increased suicidal thoughts and child abuse, World Vision report warns 

  • A new report on the impact of rations cuts reveals that half of adults feel so hopeless that they no longer want to carry on living some of the time.
  • 68% people affected by ration cuts said someone in their family had gone to bed hungry in the past 4 weeks because there was not enough food.
  • 41%

Press Release, 11 June 2024 – Hunger isn’t just killing people through malnutrition, but also through mental illness’ -this alarming revelation comes from a new report by the international aid agency World Vision which provides evidence that funding for lifesaving food assistance is urgently needed.

The report, Ration Cuts: Taking from the Hungry to Feed the Starving, published ahead of World Refugee Day on 20th June, highlights the devastating impact of ration cuts aid agencies are forced to make due to funding shortfalls. These cuts are dramatically affecting children and their families, showing the true cost of underfunded aid efforts.

Refugees and other vulnerable families are receiving just a fraction of their monthly required calories or being cut from aid distributions altogether, leading to a drastic reduction in meals and increases in child marriage, child labour, and mental health risks.

World Vision’s new research found that more than one in ten (13%) adults say they feel so hopeless that they no longer want to carry on living. Half (50%) of adults reported feeling this way most or some of the time. In Afghanistan, parents' responses suggest that nearly all adults (97%) are at risk of mental health disorders—more than four times the prevalence found in other conflict-affected populations. Similarly, levels were four times higher in Lebanon (89%) and over three times higher in Bidi Bidi (79%)

Globally, humanitarian appeals are drastically underfunded. Humanitarian agencies are being forced to cut back and reduce their assistance to focus only on those most urgently in need, decreasing targets through cutting food rations. The UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) has revised its target for humanitarian aid in 2024 to 181 million people, far short of the 281 million affected by acute food insecurity, let alone any other humanitarian need. According to the WFP, every percentage cut in assistance results in pushing more than 400,000 people from ‘crisis’ levels of acute food insecurity to ‘emergency’, bringing them one step closer to starvation. 

Refugees and other vulnerable families are receiving just a fraction of their monthly required calories or being cut from aid distributions altogether, leading to a drastic reduction in meals. The research revealed that while children on average consumed two meals per day before the cuts, when asked how many meals they were eating in January 2024, most families had eaten just one or no meals the day before. More than two-thirds (68%) of people said someone in their family had gone to bed hungry in the past four weeks because there was not enough food. Almost half (46%) said someone had gone a whole day and night without eating. 

Mary Njeri, Director of World Vision’s Global Hunger Response added, “These findings should instantly ring an alarm bell. Climate change, conflict, and COVID-19 have left more than 38 million people one step from starvation, and humanitarian aid is struggling to keep up. Children are telling us about parents sending them to work or to get married, and in some cases, considering suicide as a result of the cuts.” 

“We must urgently increase the essential lifesaving aid that children and their families so desperately need to survive. Long-term support is also essential so children can go back to school and families can once again farm, find jobs and support themselves.” Njeri added. "We already knew that one in five people affected by conflict are at risk of experiencing some form of mental health disorder, and during COVID-19 saw the additional impact food security could have on parents’ mental health.  We need not just increased food assistance, but better education, mental health, and protection support for the most vulnerable families to prevent a mental health epidemic.” 

The Rations report also exposes an alarming increase in the risk of child marriage, sexual violence, child labour, and child trafficking, with 41% of refugees thinking both girls and boys are now subject to more violence, neglect or abuse at home. Almost a third (30%) of parents thought that the ration cuts were pushing girls into child marriage, rising to 97% of parents in Afghanistan. In Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda, 75% of families reported underage girls were getting pregnant, leading them to drop out of school. 

“We know that with the right support, children and their families can thrive. No one should be going hungry in the 21st century. World leaders must urgently accelerate efforts to resolve conflicts and tackle climate change, and to provide the children and families affected with the humanitarian support they need. It is essential that we come together and say ‘enough’.”   Mary Njeri said.


For more information, please contact:

Carey Ellis, Media Manager
M: 07786 333 784 | E: carey.ellis@worldvision.org.uk

Karla Harvey, Media Manager
M: 07786 333 784 | E: karla.harvey@worldvision.org.uk

Download the full report, Ration Cuts: Taking from the hungry to feed the starving

Notes to Editor 

  1. Just 38% of the US$56.7 billion needed for humanitarian assistance in 2023 was secured, the lowest percentage since 2019. Nutrition and food security in humanitarian response plans in 2023 were only 36% and 39% funded, respectively. 
  2. In 2023, World Vision provided over 20 million people in 46 countries with food and cash assistance, including more than 16 million people in partnership with the WFP. 

About the report 

For this report, World Vision’s Global Hunger Response spoke to over 900 people across communities in six countries that have been affected by recent shortfalls in emergency food and cash assistance. Included in the research were 562 families and 36 focus group discussions in February 2024, in communities selected based on their exposure to food ration cuts: families in Afghanistan, Rohingya refugees in Cox’s Bazar in Bangladesh, a mix of displaced, host and refugee families in Demba (Kasais) and Tanganyika in the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), host communities and Syrian refugees in Lebanon, host and displaced families in Somalia, and refugees in Bidi Bidi refugee settlement in Uganda.  

It is important to note that the findings of this study do not represent the countries or global context as a whole but present the experiences of specific families in communities affected by the ration cuts and share their views on the knock-on effects of these reductions.

About World Vision 

World Vision is a Christian humanitarian and development organisation dedicated to working with children, families and their communities to reach their full potential by tackling the root causes of poverty and injustice.  World Vision and their partners are working in communities to improve families’ economic prospects, strength violence prevention and child protection services, and improve education systems.   

Through World Vision’s Global Hunger Response and ENOUGH campaign, the organisation is responding to the immediate needs of the most vulnerable girls, boys, and their families who are experiencing acute hunger in 28 countries of highest alert where World Vision operates, highlighting the driving factors and impacts of hunger, malnutrition, and food insecurity on children globally, and advocating to governments and donors to do more to prevent mass starvation.  

World Vision serves all people, regardless of religion, race, ethnicity or gender.

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