Over 20 countries will see a heightened hunger in the coming months and the majority of the countries are in Africa, according to the latest report by the Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme (WFP).
Yemen, South Sudan and northern Nigeria are the countries that top the list of countries with acute hunger and face catastrophic levels, the report Hunger Hotspots said.
The report, which is an outlook from March to July 2021 points out that several families in some pockets of South Sudan and Yemen are already in the grip of or at risk of starvation and death. Though hunger is mostly felt in African countries, acute hunger is due to rise steeply in Afghanistan in Asia, Syria and Lebanon in Middle East, Haiti in Latin America and the Caribbean.
Already, over 34 million people are grappling with emergency levels of acute hunger (IPC4) – meaning they are one-step away from starvation – across the world.
Stating that the magnitude of suffering was quite alarming, FAO Director General QU Dongyu said that everyone has a responsibility to act to save lives and prevent the worst situation. Dongyu stated that a catastrophe was unfolding.
“Famine – driven by conflict, and fuelled by climate shocks and the COVID-19 hunger pandemic – is knocking on the door for millions of families,” said WFP Executive Director David Beasley.
Conflict, COVID-19 key drivers of acute food insecurity
The Report said that conflict and Covid 19 pandemic resulted in a projected rise in acute food insecurity in the 20 hunger “hotspots” between March and July 2021. It stated that conflict or other forms of violence is likely to increase in parts of Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Central Sahel, Ethiopia, northern Nigeria, northern Mozambique, Somalia, South Sudan and the Sudan.
The report maintained that Covid 19 pandemic would continue to affect numerous countries, leaving them highly vulnerable to economic shocks.
Climate extremes and la Niña-driven weather likely continue in April and May, This will drive hunger in several parts of the world – from Afghanistan, Madagascar to the Horn of Africa.
Desert Locust outbreaks in East Africa and on the Red Sea Coast are a concern. In Southern Africa, some parts of Angola, Botswana, Namibia, Zambia and Zimbabwe, African migratory locusts threaten to ravage the summer crops.
Urgent action needed
The Hunger Hotspots report called for short-term actions in each hunger hotspot to address existing and future needs. This includes scaling up food and nutrition assistance, distributing drought-tolerant seeds, treating and vaccinating livestock, rolling out cash-for-work schemes, rehabilitating water-harvesting structures and increasing income opportunities for vulnerable communities.
The report noted that South Sudan, Yemen and northern Nigeria remain at most risk of high acute food insecurity. In Burkina Faso, food security has slightly improved since last October, but the situation is still very concerning. It said that over seven million people across South Sudan is likely to fall into crisis or worse levels of acute food insecurity.
In Yemen, continued violence and economic decline as well as severe disruptions to the humanitarian response are likely to persist over the coming months. Over 16 million Yemenis likely to face high levels of acute food insecurity by June 2021. In northern Nigeria, projections for the June-August lean season show that the number of people in emergency level of acute food insecurity is likely to almost double – to over 1.2 million.
The report mentions that about 2.7 million Burkinabe will face high acute food insecurity between June and August 2021. This is a sharp increase from 700,000 in 2019, before violence escalated in the West African nation.