Conflict, climate disasters threaten food security – WFP

Nyabugogo maize plantation affected by flooding due to the heavy rain in Kigali on 25 December 2019. Dan Nsengiyumva.

A new decade may have dawned but there is little cause for fresh optimism in countries and regions where conflict, political instability and climate disasters are threatening the food security of millions of people, a new report by the UN’s World Food Programme (WFP) suggests.

The WFP Global Hotspots 2020 report released on Thursday outlines projected food emergencies around the world for the first half of the year 2020.

 

It indicates that urgent hunger challenges are expected to persist worldwide, with food needs in sub-Saharan Africa especially worrisome.

 

WFP has identified 15 critical and complex emergencies at risk of descending further into crisis without a rapid response and greater investment.

 

They include Zimbabwe, South Sudan, Haiti, and the Central Sahel (which includes Mali Burkina, Western Niger), the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Lebanon, Iraq, Cameroun, Libya, Nigeria, Bolivia, Ethiopia, and the Central African Republic.

Sub-Saharan Africa dominates WFP’s analysis, with Zimbabwe, South Sudan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the Central Sahel region all needing immediate attention, given the urgent needs of children, women and men.

Elsewhere, the report highlights that the rapidly evolving political and social crisis in Haiti is raising alarm, while Afghanistan continues to face insecurity combined with drought, leaving millions of people uncertain of where their next meal will come from.

For instance, the Democratic Republic of the Congo is faced with persistent insecurity and conflict in the east which are causing large-scale displacement and food insecurity, according to the report.

This is compounded by limited humanitarian access and climate shocks.

Also in this nation, flash floods and landslides have affected more than 600,000 people across the country since October 2019.

Almost 16 million people are severely food insecure, the second-highest number in the world after that of Yemen, while 4.8 million people are internally displaced.

For Zimbabwe, the report revealed, the country is experiencing its worst drought in decades, with temperatures hitting over 40 degrees Celsius, and as a result, food production in the country has been severely affected.

The effects of this situation is that food-insecurity levels are the highest in a decade as half the population, 7.7 million people, is food insecure.

It added that the 2019 cereal harvest in Zimbabwe fell more than 50 per cent short of needs for the 2019-20 lean season.

While WFP continues to provide extensive assistance to high-profile emergencies such as Yemen and Syria, Global Hotspots 2020 highlights the fastest deteriorating emergencies requiring the world’s urgent attention, the UN food assistance agency said.

As the largest UN humanitarian agency working to both save lives through tackling hunger, WFP said it is ready to step up support wherever needed, given sufficient funding and access.

However, the agency estimates it will require more than US$10 billion to fully fund all of its operations in more than 80 countries around the world in 2020. 

This report follows the 2019 State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World, a report by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) which showed that Africa is the region with the highest prevalence of undernourishment. 

It stated that almost 20 per cent – or about 260 million people of the continent was hungry.

Globally, there were an estimated 820 million hungry people in the world – or about 11 per cent of the world’s population as per that FAO report.

entirenganya@newtimesrwanda.com

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