Half of the people in the region are hungry. Here’s why.

Nearly 50 million people across the region are suffering from hunger, the highest level in two decades, and the situation may worsen as climate change worsens.

The United Nations’ food agency says large-scale displacement and political uncertainty stemming from the ongoing war in Syria, conflict in Venezuela and the refugee crisis in the region could add to the crisis.

A food security report released on Saturday by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization says almost 45 million people in Latin America and the Caribbean are food insecure, as families unable to find sufficient food and with a dire financial situation. The level of food insecurity has worsened since 2014 and is the highest the region has seen since the 1990s.

Many analysts and aid agencies say climate change is playing a large role in the increase.

“Climate change is already disrupting food production and consumption across the region, creating new vulnerabilities and stressors, such as a decline in precipitation that affects agricultural and hydro-meteorological systems, and warming that impacts weather, water availability and a range of human activities,” the FAO report said.

Concentrations of greenhouse gases are at record levels across the globe and “the changes in climate are affecting rainfall, weather patterns and crop yields, increasing uncertainty about food production in the region,” the report said.

Latin America and the Caribbean are home to one of the fastest growing economies in the world, which already accounts for 50 percent of the world’s incremental farm GDP. But some believe the region could become less prosperous as bad weather batters crops, smallholder farmers are forced out of business and millions struggle to put food on the table.

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