UN: Thousands in West Africa face acute food shortage


UN humanitarian agencies warned on Tuesday that 48 million people in West and Central Africa face severe food insecurity in the coming months, a 10-year high driven by insecurity, climate shocks, Covid-19 and high prices. .

West and Central Africa face increasing risks from high temperatures and erratic rainfall. The war in Ukraine has contributed to food and fertilizer shortages in one of the world’s poorest regions.

According to a regional food security analysis presented by the UN’s World Food Program (WFP), the humanitarian agency OCHA, the number of people without regular access to safe and nutritious food during the June-August lean season reached 48 million. is estimated to reach Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the children’s agency UNICEF.

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It is driven by the plight of countries in the semi-arid Sahel region south of the Sahara desert, including Mali and Burkina Faso, which are battling an Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands and displaced some 2.5 million.

A record 45,000 people in the Sahel are expected to face severe starvation, far fewer than the famine calls for, according to agencies.

A boy sits in the shade of a makeshift hut in northeastern Nigeria on June 20, 2016. Nigeria is grappling with food shortages as the United Nations warns that as many as 50,000 children in Nigeria could starve to death that year. (Stefan HEUNIS/AFP via Getty Images)

The fighting has cut off food supply routes to parts of the Sahel and around Lake Chad and other conflict zones in the Central African Republic, said Alexandre Lecuziat, WFP’s senior emergency preparedness and response adviser.

“We see areas that are completely blocked,” he said at a joint press conference in Dakar, explaining how the high cost of hiring helicopters to reach these zones has cut into funds available to buy food. ends

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Overall, WFP faces a $900 million deficit in the region this year, he said.

Forecast food shortages mean that around 16.5 million children under the age of five will face severe malnutrition this year.

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The region’s reliance on imports has made it vulnerable to higher global inflation rates even as rains improve in 2022 and cereal production increases in many parts of West Africa.

“The time has come to act to boost agricultural production to achieve food sovereignty in our region,” said Robert Gui, FAO’s sub-regional coordinator for West Africa.

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