Food Security: FAO, WFP identify Nigeria, 22 other countries as world’s hunger hotspots

*The two United Nations’ agencies say the highest alert list includes South Sudan, Yemen and Northern Nigeria, where about 41million consumers are at risk of falling into famine in some areas of these countries

Isola Moses | ConsumerConnect

Amid the highly transmissible Delta variant of the novel, damaging Coronavirus, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP), two of United Nations (UN) agencies, have disclosed that in the next four months, conflict, COVID-19 pandemic, and climate crisis are likely to increase hunger in 23 countries of the world.

ConsumerConnect gathered Ms. Eri Kaneko, Associate Spokesperson for UN Secretary-General António Guterres, stated this probable development while briefing correspondents at the UN headquarters recently in New York, United States (US) on a new report released by FAO and WFP.

Citing from the two agencies’ report Ms. Kaneko in a statement said Ethiopia and Madagascar were the world’s newest “highest alert” hunger hotspots.

The Associate Spokesperson said: “The highest alert list also includes South Sudan, Yemen, and Northern Nigeria.

“In some areas of these countries, significant numbers of people are at risk of falling into famine.

“The report flags other countries where life-threatening hunger is on the rise. They include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, the Central African Republic, Colombia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Sudan, and Syria.”

WFP and FAO noted that humanitarian action is urgently needed to prevent hunger, famine and death in all 23 hotspots, according to Kaneko.

The UN agencies also warned that efforts at fighting a global surge in acute food insecurity were being stymied in several countries by fighting and blockades that cut off life-saving aid to families on the brink of famine.

She further explained that “bureaucratic obstacles as well as a lack of funding also hamper the two UN agencies’ efforts to provide emergency food assistance and enable farmers to plant at scale and at the right time.

“This is of grave concern as conflict, the economic repercussions of COVID-19 and the climate crisis are expected to drive higher levels of acute food insecurity in 23 hunger hotspots over the next four month.”

It was learnt that the FAO and WFP have already warned that 41 million people were at risk of falling into famine unless they received immediate food and livelihood assistance.

QU Dongyu, Director-General of FAO, also said: “2020 saw 155 million people facing acute food insecurity at Crisis or worse levels in 55 countries, and according to the Global Report on Food Crises, an increase of more than 20 million from 2019 – and the trend is only expected to worsen this year.

“The vast majority of those on the verge are farmers. Alongside food assistance, we must do all we can to help them resume food production themselves, so that families and communities can move back towards self-sufficiency and not just depend on aid to survive.”

The FAO Chief, in the report, stated: “That’s difficult without access, and without adequate funding – and so far, support to agriculture as key means of preventing widespread famine remains largely overlooked by donors, unfortunately.”

David Beasley, WFP Executive Director as well cautioned that “without such support to agriculture, humanitarian needs will keep skyrocketing, that’s inevitable.

“Families that rely on humanitarian assistance to survive are hanging by a thread. When we cannot reach them that thread is cut, and the consequences are nothing short of catastrophic.”

It also highlights that conflict, climate extremes and economic shocks – often related to the economic fallout of COVID-19 – will likely remain primary drivers of acute food insecurity for the August-November 2021 period.

Transboundary threats constitute an aggravating factor in some regions, in particular, desert locust infestations in the Horn of Africa and African migratory locust in Southern Africa require continued monitoring and vigilance, according to the report.

It said humanitarian access constraints was another severe aggravating factor that hamper efforts to curb food crises and prevent starvation, death and a total collapse of livelihoods, increasing the risk of famine.

Beasley noted: “Countries currently facing most significant obstacles preventing aid from reaching those who need it most include Afghanistan, Ethiopia, the Central African Republic, Mali, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, Syria and Yemen.

“The road to Zero Hunger isn’t paved with conflict, checkpoints and red tape.

“Humanitarian access isn’t some abstract concept – it means authorities approving paperwork in time so that food can be moved swiftly.”

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