Junk foods on display
The World Food Programme (WFP) has declared Nigeria and 22 other countries as hot spots that are prone to acute food insecurity. This declaration is contained in a joint report by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) and WFP ‘Hunger hotspots FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity August to November 2021 outlook’ published recently.
The other countries are Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, Angola, Democratic Republic of Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Kenya, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Chad. Also listed are Lebanon, Colombia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Sierra Leone, Mozambique, Madagascar, Myanmar, Liberia, Syria, Yemen, Central America (Guatemala, Honduras, Nicaragua) and Central Sahel (Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger).
The report said conflict, climate concerns 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. The report classified Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Mali, Myanmar, Nigeria, Somalia, the Syrian Arab Republic and Yemen as having extreme access constraints.
Countries classified as having very high constraints include the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Mozambique, Niger, Sudan and South Sudan. According to the report, rising violence across northern Nigeria and persisting nationwide inflation are likely to drive up acute food insecurity.
“This will increase the risk of some areas in the northeast falling into catastrophic levels of food insecurity should the situation continue to deteriorate,” it said. It added that the countries with the highest number of people in urgent need of food assistance in the world are Haiti, Honduras, Sudan, and Syria.
FAO’s director general, Qu Dongyu, said the vast majority of those on the verge are farmers, stressing that alongside food assistance, world food bodies would do all they can to help farmers resume food production themselves so that families and communities can move back towards self-sufficiency and not just depend on aid to survive.
“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.
“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. Without such support to agriculture, humanitarian needs will keep skyrocketing, that’s inevitable,” he said.
For his part, the executive director of WFP, David Beasley said families that rely on humanitarian assistance to survive are hanging by a thread. The report provided country-specific recommendations on priorities for anticipatory action, short-term protective interventions to be implemented before new humanitarian needs materialise and emergency response action to address existing humanitarian needs.
“Targeted humanitarian action is urgently needed to save lives and livelihoods in 23 hotspots. Moreover, in five of these hotspots, humanitarian actions are critical to preventing famine and death,” the report said.