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Last Updated 7th July 2022.

How much funding is the Food Security sector forecast to receive in 2022?

Funding to the Food Security sector is forecast to be between $5.1bn and $8.5bn in 2022. For reference, the sector received $6.1bn last year.

This forecast is based on our 95% probability range. In other words, we are 95% sure that funding will be between $5.1bn and $8.5bn. Below are the other forecast ranges for the Food Security sector. As we become less sure about our forecast, the range narrows. So for example, we think there’s a 50% probability that funding will be between $6.5bn and $7.9bn.

But we need to put this into context. What does the forecast mean in terms of reaching the funding that is required for the sector (also known as the funding requirement)? The total funding requirement globally is determined by how much is needed in each context. Given that we don’t have the information yet we have projected the funding required for 2022 and compared that to the funding forecast. If you hover over the donut below you’ll be able to see the chances of reaching 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of the funding that is required.

As the most well funded sector in absolute terms, Food Security is almost certain to reach 25% of its funding requirement, but we think that it’s unlikely that Food Security will receive 50% of what is required.


How does the 2022 forecast compare to previous years?

Our forecast for 2022 is that Food Security will stay in a similar range to last year’s figure. The sector is forecast to receive somewhere between 33% and 55% of the current funding requirement.

Funding to the sector has gradually increased over time. In 2016, the Food Security sector received $2.8bn, which rose to $5.5bn in 2019, before falling again to $4.9bn in 2020, and then recovering again in 2021 to $6.1bn. Could it be that 2020 was an aberration due to COVID-19?

The amount of funding required for Food Security has also increased year-on-year since 2016. The funding requirement in 2016 was $4.8bn. By 2021, this had increased to $14.1bn. That’s a yearly increase of 24%, or put another way, an increase of 192% in just 5 years. $14bn is a huge funding ask, and if this continues in 2022 (which is likely given the trends in humanitarian needs across the world), the funding ask is almost certainly unreachable in the short and medium term.

For the period of 2016 to 2019, the funding gap was actually closing. The sector achieved 58% of the funding requirement in 2016, rising to 67% in 2019. The funding gap, whilst absolutely huge in real terms, was relatively stable at between $2bn and $2.7bn. But the explosion in funding required has caused the funding gap to increase to 57% in 2021.

However, we need to put this graph into context. If there’s one thing you should know about the Food Security sector, it’s that it’s the largest sector of all, by some margin. In terms of the amount of funding that is required to meet humanitarian needs, it’s the largest. The 2021 funding ask ($14.1bn) was some way ahead of the next largest, Health, at $3.9bn. In terms of the amount of funding that is received, it is also the largest. $5.4bn of funding went to Food Security in 2021, which again is some way ahead of the next largest, Nutrition, at $1.1bn.

In fact, funding to Food Security in 2021 was more than funding to all other sectors combined (excluding Multi-sector, as this has tended to be a catch-all for regional refugee response plans as opposed to a distinct thematic area). As of April 2022, funding to Food Security was $6.2bn in 2021, whilst the combined funding to all other sectors was $6.0bn. Indeed, this also happened in 2018 and 2019 as well.

Food Security has already experienced two years of a growing funding gap, and another year of this in 2022 could keep Food Security in a humanitarian recession. We’ve come up with a way of defining what a ‘real humanitarian recession’ is, and we’ve defined it in this story as two consecutive years of a growing funding gap. So what is expected to happen in 2022?

We think that it’s likely that Food Security will close the funding gap this year. In other words, it’s likely that the sector will jump out of recession in 2022.


How does the 2022 forecast compare to other sectors?

Given the sheer scale of the Food Security sector, we think that it’s almost certain that it will rank 1st out of all humanitarian sectors in 2022 (and likely 2023, 2024, 2025, and so on).


The current state of things

By the end of June 2022, the Food Security sector had received way more than at the same point in 2021 ($3bn vs. $1.7bn last year). The unusual peak in funding so far this year could be a reflection of a new increase in funding writ large for the setor. But equally, could this be a front-loading of funding by donors given the crisis in Ukraine? Evidence supporting this hypothesis is present when we look at the timing of the increase in funding (i.e. after March 2022).

Funding to the Food Security sector in 2021 surpassed levels of previous years from April onwards. By the end of the year, the sector had exceeded its 2020 levels by over $1bn.

2019 was a good year for the sector as it beat 2018 levels, and we may have expected that to increase in 2020. Yet, the sector levelled off at 2018 levels. One immediate hypothesis springs to mind on why 2020 was lower than 2019 funding. Could it be that the COVID-19 pandemic caused funding flows to Food Security to fall significantly? Donors may have reallocated funding to other humanitarian sectors (such as Health), may have held back funding, or may have reallocated funding domestically in the shape of a fiscal stimulus to deal with the pandemic.


Features of the Food Security Sector in 2021

The average Food Security response was 53% funded in 2021. In isolation, this doesn’t sound great. But when we compare this to other sectors, this is the second highest average of any sector. This may not be that surprising given the high absolute amounts of Food Security funding compared to other sectors.

The biggest success story from the Food Security sector is that 23 Food Security responses received over 50% of what was required in 2021, with three responses (Guatemala, Afghanistan Flash Appeal, and Burundi) receiving even more than their funding ask. Yet, at the same time, there were 7 responses that received less than 25% of what was required in 2021.

When writing this section for other sectors, we’ve often posed the question: what drives this inequity between contexts? Could it be the size of the funding requirement, underreporting, year-on-year variation, donor preferences, or something else?

The most striking feature of the donor landscape for Food Security is the scale of funding from the US Government as a donor, and the scale of WFP as a recipient. The US government are responsible for 48% of all funding to the sector. And 48% of a $6bn+ sector translates into a lot of money: $2.9bn to be precise. The next largest donor to the sector is the German Government (14%), the Famine Relief Fund (5%), the UK Government (5%), and ECHO (4%). These five donors contribute 76% of all Food Security funding.

Despite the large number of donors, the sector is not very diverse at all, mainly due to the dominance of the United States. One way to measure how diverse the sector is in terms of funding sources is to use the Herfindahl Hirschman Index. On a scale of 0 to 10,000, a sector is highly concentrated with a score over 2,500. The Food Security sector has a score of 2,576 indicating a highly concentrated sector.

There are potentially two implications to this. Firstly, the domination of one actor suggests that the sector may not be resilient to shocks. If one donor (in this case the US government) suffers a short term shock to funding, then there may not be enough other sources of funding for the sector not to suffer. The second implication is that the lack of diversity of perspectives concentrates power with one actor, and in theory does not enable a diversity of thought. This is more of a normative statement than a financial one, but it is important when we think about where power lies in the sector.

This is reflected in who receives funding. WFP receives 79% of all Food Security funding. In the commercial world this would be called a monopoly. This is then followed by CRS (6%), and FAO (5%). Together these three organisations receive 90% of all Food Security funding. A further 153 organisations receive the other 10% of all funding. It should be noted that WFP will have partners and there will be ‘second-tier’ partners downstream.


2021 Forecast

Last year’s forecast can’t yet be judged against what the reality was as the 2021 numbers aren’t ‘final’ yet, despite it being 2022 already. It varies year-to-year, but there is still a non-trivial amount of funding that is logged after the end of the year. Therefore, we can’t really judge last year’s forecast until some point later in 2022. It’s at this point that we’ll do a post-mortem on our 2021 forecasts and see how well we did.

Methodology

The usual health warning: FTS doesn’t capture everything. It is a platform that relies on voluntary reporting by organisations. But it is the most comprehensive source of data for humanitarian funding.

For forecast methodology, click here. We’ll be keeping a record of all our forecasts and success over time, which you can find here.

To find out methodology and sources for other things on this page which aren’t the forecast, click here.