Thank you very much. It's great to be here.
I was trying, really, to determine how I should go forward when we have so many tragedies around the world. We're facing so many wars, conflicts and disasters, where do you start? Let's take it from a global perspective, maybe.
I took this role a year and a half ago, kicking and screaming—and reluctantly, quite frankly, given the dynamics of the world—but here we are a year and a half later. The world had been making so much progress with regard to reducing hunger around the world over the past, really, 200 years, and particularly in the last 50 years. In the last two years, the hunger rate has spiked. It's gone from 777 million to 821 million. The more complex, sad news is that the severe hunger rate—these are people literally marching toward the brink of starvation, who don't know where their next meal is—has risen from what was 80 million to 124 million in just two years. The fundamental question would be: What's the driving cause?
The number one driving cause is, of course, manmade conflict, whether you talk about Yemen or complex deterioration inside a country like Venezuela, or whether you're talking about Syria, Iraq, Somalia, northeast Nigeria or South Sudan. We're now feeding or assisting over 90 million people on any given day.
When I got to the World Food Programme, we were facing major financial issues. The United States—this new administration—was talking about cutting back. We were facing four famines around the world. We were able to avert famines, and of course, we were able to convince the United States that international aid was critical not only to the national security interests of any particular nation but also for world peace and stability. The good news is that donors around the world, including the United States, have not backed down but have stepped up. We've raised about $1 billion extra, but we're still a couple of billion dollars short.
The number two driving force is climate extremes. We can go from country to country and showcase where and how those have impacts. Where you have destabilization plus climate extremes, that is an absolute formula for migration and disintegration of many different dynamics within a culture. You might see that particularly in the Central and South America region, and you may particularly notice that in the Sahel, or the Greater Sahel region from the Atlantic to the Red Sea, as people are migrating, moving.
What we know at the World Food Programme is that people don't want to leave. People don't just leave their homes. I don't care whether they're left-wing, right-wing, whatever their colour, their race, their religion or whatever, they want to be home. When they don't have food security, every 1% increase in food insecurity is a 2% increase in migration. When you feed 90-some million people on any given day, you learn a lot about people. You know what they're thinking, their habits, their problems, their issues. We do extensive surveying and analytics with the people we are feeding on any given day around the world. There are common themes.
For example, let me talk about Syria, out of which there was migration into Europe. This is a country of some 20 million people, and that has obviously been going down now, as five million or six million are in the surrounding neighbourhood, so to speak, and then several million made it up into Europe, with a small infiltration by extremist groups. The cost to us of supporting or feeding a Syrian inside Syria is about 50¢ per day. That's almost double what the normal cost would be, but it's a war zone and our logistical costs are higher. You can feed people pretty inexpensively when you buy as much food as we do.
For that same Syrian, who does not want to be in Berlin, who does not want to be in Brussels, the humanitarian pack is theirs for 50 euros per day. That's one hundred times more expensive. They don't want to be there. In fact, they will move two, three, four times inside their home country before they'll finally leave, whether they go to Jordan or Lebanon or Turkey or wherever they can get access to.
It's really no different from what you would see in Venezuela and what's taking place, with one million now in Colombia and 800,000 in Ecuador. Then you add in the complexity of the dry corridor and the drought that's taking place. In fact, there was a news story today on CNN Politics that showed that people are missing the point that a lot of what's driving the caravan is hunger because of the drought in El Salvador, in Honduras, in Nicaragua, and in Guatemala.
These are issues that need to be addressed. This is where I think the World Food Programme, with our experience, is saying we can operate in emergency conditions. No one can do that better than we can. However, you're not addressing the root cause of the problem. If we could address the root cause, then in my opinion we could eliminate migration by necessity and end up with migration by choice. That's a pleasant discussion.
As I say to my friends, Republicans and Democrats in Washington, once they agree to disagree—because they're consuming 100% of their time on whether there should be a wall and what the immigration policy should be—why don't they just respectfully decide to lay that aside? Why don't we come together on addressing the root cause of the problem so that it is no longer a serious, complex issue?
The World Food Programme is mostly seen as humanitarian emergency relief, when in fact, though we are the world's largest operation, we bring to the table the development context for food security. This is why it's so important to work with Canada: Canada clearly understands the role of the humanitarian and development nexus. The old silos that were created back in the 1960s and 1970s—there was a development silo and a humanitarian emergency sort of response silo—need to be broken down to give the team the flexibility to address more complex situations than there were before.
It's not quite so simple a silo now in how we need to address food security issues in areas that differ, whether it's in Central and South America, the Sahel or the greater Sahel region where we have 500 million people, not just 20 million. I think it was on France 24 television where I said that if you think you're worried about 20 million, wait until the 500 million destabilize. ISIS, al Qaeda, Boko Haram and al Shabaab are trying to exploit the fragility. You have fragile governments and then you have climate extremes coming upon the people there. It's a very complex situation but we have solutions. We know that when we come in with flexible multi-year funding for a long-term solution, we can solve the problems. We can show you example after example because there's a lot of donor fatigue out there.
You can go into some of the African countries where some of the donors say they've been putting money there for 30, 40 or 50 years, whether through the United Nations or international aid, and there's nothing to show for it. We're saying that for every dollar we spend, we want, number one, an exit strategy. In other words, how do we achieve objectives so we're no longer needed there? We create sustainability and self-sufficiency. We've worked with food-for-asset types of programs in these very fragile areas.
What we're doing with this, and with school meals, gender parity and gender empowerment for women and girls in all of these programs around the world, is quite remarkable and Canada is a major player in helping us lead the way. We're here to say thank you. Thank you very much for that partnership. We have a lot more to do. That's one of the reasons we wanted to be here, to really showcase the realities of how you're investing your money. I can answer any of your questions to showcase why we believe it's a good investment, but we need to do more.
As my friends in the United States said, “We're not backing down. You go tell our friends in Canada and in Europe to do more with us.”