African countries including Nigeria, South Sudan, Ethiopia and Yemen are “braced for starvation and death”, revealed a joint study conducted by the UN’s FAO and WFP. As more people fall into the “catastrophe” phase (IPC5) of the worldwide standard for food insecurity, it calls for action to “avoid famine, death, and the entire collapse of livelihoods”.
“WFP urgently needs flexible, non-earmarked funding contributions, such as its Immediate Response Account, that allow us to respond immediately and avert catastrophic consequences,“ said Margot van der Velden, the organisation’s director of emergencies, via a statement. “Funding our operations in the world’s hunger hotspots will be critical this year, or there is the very real risk that more people will slip into famine.”
“As humanitarian actors, we are faced with overwhelming challenges. We must scale up operations in challenging conditions, we must sustain critical assistance in complex crises, and we must be prepared to respond quickly to sudden disruptions and unexpected emergencies.”
In countries like the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of Congo, Myanmar, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and the Central Sahel region, many of the people supported by the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) are escaping conflict and have been forced to forsake their land, homes and employment.
Meanwhile, the Covid-19 pandemic’s economic issues linger, and are expected to continue to drive up food costs and famine. With the exception of a brief dip in mid-2021, global food prices have been steadily rising since May 2020.
Climate extremes continue to wreak devastation in the world’s most vulnerable countries, including Afghanistan, Angola, Haiti and Syria.
A breakdown of the situation in each country:
Acute food insecurity is being exacerbated by insecurity and high inflation rates. Access restrictions in conflict-affected areas continue to make humanitarian aid distribution difficult. If humanitarian and livelihood-building measures are not sustained in conflict-affected Borno state, an estimated 13 500 individuals may suffer famine and death.
Yemen is experiencing an increase in hunger as a result of a toxic mix of conflict and economic deterioration. As a result, half of all Yemeni families now consume less than is necessary. Acute malnutrition afflicted around 2.25 million children and over 1 million pregnant and nursing women in 2021.
According to the most recent forecasts, 7.2 million people are facing severe food insecurity, with regions of the country at risk of famine. Communities have had to deal with increasingly frequent and severe flooding, which has resulted in widespread relocation, agricultural output losses, and livelihood destruction, compounding existing vulnerabilities in many areas. Starting in April, recent climate models predict another wetter-than-average season.
Approximately 401 000 people in the Tigray region were expected to face famine-like conditions between July and September 2021. If present humanitarian and commercial access limits persist and fighting in Tigray resumes, a high probability of famine persists.
Following the release of the hunger hotspots report, a joint WFP and REACH Emergency Food Security Assessment highlighted persistent concerns about the scale and severity of food insecurity in Tigray. Another bad rainy season in southern Ethiopia could result in a further significant deterioration of food security.