Hunger besieges 193 million people … and the future is bleak

Hunger besieges 193 million people … and the future is bleak

Drought threatens tens of millions in the Horn of Africa


Thursday – 4 Shawwal 1443 AH – 05 May 2022 AD Issue No. [
15864]


The number of people facing serious food crises worldwide reached 193 million last year (EPA)

Cairo: Ahmed Al-Ghamrawi

A UN report, obtained by Asharq Al-Awsat, said conflicts, severe weather and economic shocks had led to an increase in the number of people facing food crises by a fifth to 193 million last year, and that expectations will worsen unless urgent measures are taken “on a large scale”.
The United Nations World Food Program and the Global Network against Food Crises, launched by the United Nations and the European Union, said in an annual report that food insecurity has almost doubled in the last six years since 2016 when it was monitored .
The report did not address the effects of the Ukrainian crisis, as it did this year. Estimates for 2022, which at this stage include only 42 of the 53 countries involved, suggest that 179 to 181.1 million people may be extremely food insecure.
The data showed that food security was an acute threat to 193 million people in 53 countries by 2021, according to the report, which means they urgently need help to survive, an increase of about 40 million people compared to the number which was recorded in 2020.
“The future prospects are not good,” the report reads. If more is not done to support rural communities, the scale of the devastation in terms of famine and loss of livelihood will be appalling. ” “Urgent, large-scale humanitarian action is needed to prevent this from happening …” But even with food aid, many have faced acute malnutrition and are unable to meet their minimum food needs. The classification includes levels 3 to 5 of the International Food Security Scale: “crisis”, “emergency” and “disaster”.
Acute food insecurity is defined as any food shortage that threatens lives or livelihoods or both. The number of people facing food crises increased by 40 million, or 20 percent, last year.
The leading cause of acute hunger for 30.2 million people worldwide is the economic problems associated with the (Covid-19) epidemic, though less severe than in 2020. The United Nations has indicated that its numbers have risen as a result of expanding its geographic coverage, which includes new countries such as the Democratic Republic of Congo.
Looking ahead, the report said that Russia’s invasion of Ukraine – two major food producers – poses serious risks to global food security, especially in countries experiencing a food crisis, including Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Haiti, Somalia, South Sudan, Syria and Yemen. In 2021, Somalia received more than 90 percent of its wheat needs from Russia and Ukraine, the Democratic Republic of Congo received 80 percent, and Madagascar imported 70 percent of basic food from the two countries.
“Countries that are already facing high levels of acute hunger are particularly vulnerable due to their high dependence on food imports and their vulnerability to global food price shocks,” the report said.
Conflicts in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Sudan, Syria and Nigeria are some of the reasons why the number of people facing hunger has been steadily rising over the past few years. The report added that the pandemic and the crisis that followed only exacerbated the situation.
Similarly, bad weather in many African countries has led to severe food shortages. The report stated that approximately 570,000 people in Ethiopia, southern Sudan, southern Madagascar and Yemen faced the risk of famine in 2021, and the United Nations called for additional financial support as well as stronger political will to stop the increase in the number of people. threatened with starvation.
From southern Ethiopia to northern Kenya, which passes through Somalia, the Horn of Africa faces a drought that worries humanitarian organizations, putting about 20 million people at risk of starvation. In these areas, where the population consists mainly of livestock farming and agriculture, the last three winter seasons since the end of the year 2020 have seen only low rainfall rates, at a time when the locust invasion between 2019 and 2021 destroyed crops.
The World Food Program indicated in April that, a month after the start of the rainy season, “the number of hungry people due to drought is likely to rise from the current estimate of 14 million people to 20 million in 2022.”
About 40 percent of Somalia’s population, or nearly six million people, face severe levels of food insecurity, and some areas are likely to starve, according to the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA).
In Ethiopia, 6.5 million people face “acute food insecurity”, as well as 3.5 million people in Kenya. About one million people have been displaced from their homes in the region due to lack of water and grazing, and at least three million head of livestock have died, according to OCHA.
“We must act now … if we want to avoid a humanitarian disaster,” David Phiri, WFP representative at the African Union, said during a press conference in Geneva.
The situation was exacerbated by the Russian invasion of Ukraine, which according to the United Nations contributed to the rise in food and oil prices and the disruption of supply chains. Ten million children in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Somalia and Kenya need basic assistance, according to Catherine Russell, Executive Director of the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF). “More than 1.7 million children are suffering from acute malnutrition in the region,” she said in a statement released after a four-day visit to Ethiopia last week.
According to Russell, the lack of drinking water increases the risk of illness in children, while hundreds of thousands of them have left school and are forced to walk for long hours to get water and food.
In 2017, early humanitarian mobilization prevented a famine in Somalia, after 260,000 people (half of their children under the age of six) died in 2011 from starvation or diseases caused by famine. The lack of water and the scarcity of pasture also cause conflicts, especially between herders.
In Kenya, known for its nature reserves and parks, wildlife is also threatened.
Many cases of wild animal deaths, including giraffes and antelopes, have been recorded due to lack of water and food. It also happens that animals leave their usual habitat in search of water or food. In the middle of the country, big cats attacked herds of cattle and several elephants and buffaloes grazing on farms grazed and angered residents.


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