Published On: Sun, Apr 1st, 2018

Food crises continue to strike Somalia; acute hunger intensifies

A new report found that some 124 million people in 51 countries were affected by acute food insecurity during 2017 — 11 million more people than the year before, according to the latest edition of the Global Report on Food Crises.

The report defines acute food insecurity as hunger so severe that it poses an immediate threat to lives or livelihoods.

The increase is due to conflict and insecurity in Myanmar, northeast Nigeria, the Democratic Republic of Congo, South Sudan, and Yemen. Prolonged drought conditions also resulted in consecutive poor harvests in countries already facing high levels of food insecurity and malnutrition in eastern and southern Africa.

The report is produced each year by the European Union, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) at a briefing for U.N. member nations in Rome.

The report said the food crisis is determined by complex causes such as conflict, extreme climatic shocks and high prices of staple food often acting at the same time.

Conflict continued to be the primary driver of acute food insecurity in 18 countries — 15 of them in Africa or the Middle East. It is the primary reason for most of the world’s cases of acute food insecurity, accounting for 60 percent of the global total, or 74 million people.

Climate disasters — mainly drought — were triggers of food crises in 23 countries, two-thirds of them in Africa, and were responsible for pushing some 39 million people into acute food insecurity.

Conflict, climate disasters and other drivers often contribute to complex crises that have devastating and long-lasting consequences on the livelihood of people. Entire communities and more children and women are in need of nutritional support compared to last year, the report noted, and long-lasting solutions are needed if we want to revert this trend.

The report said conflict would likely remain a significant driver of food crises in 2018, affecting Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo, northeastern Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen and Libya.

Yemen will continue to be the most significant food crisis. The situation there is expected to deteriorate because of restricted access, economic collapse and outbreaks of disease.

The impact of severe dry weather on crop and livestock production is likely to heighten food insecurity in pastoral areas of Somalia, southeastern Ethiopia and eastern Kenya, and in West African and Sahel countries including Senegal, Chad, Niger, Mali, Mauritania and Burkina Faso.

Key messages at the launching of the report were:

— “Hunger and food insecurity plague the lives of millions worldwide. In the face of human-made and natural disasters, we should shape a more robust and strategic global response to food crises,” said EU Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management Christos Stylianides.

— Neven Mimica, EU Commissioner for International Cooperation and Development, said food crises are likely to become more acute, persistent and complex given current trends and their causes with “devastating effects on the lives of millions of people.”

— FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said that the consequences of conflict and climate change are stark. “Millions of more people severely, even desperately, hungry,” he said. “The fighting must stop now, and the world must come together to avert these crises often happening right in front of our eyes.”

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