Twenty countries contain areas that could soon experience famine in the coming months without urgent and scaled-up assistance, a report has said.
The places prone to imminent and famine are Yemen, South Sudan and Northern Nigeria, UN food agencies have said.
According to the joint report by the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO), and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) “Hunger hotspots FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity March to July 2021 outlook” published on Tuesday, “acute hunger is set to soar in over 20 countries in the coming months without urgent and scaled-up assistance.”
According to the report, people in Yemen, South Sudan and Northern Nigeria remain most at risk of rising and dangerously high acute food insecurity.
“In Burkina Faso, food security has slightly improved since last October, but the situation is still very concerning.
“Some 2.7 million Burkina Faso are projected to face high acute food insecurity between June and August 2021, a sharp increase from 700,000 in 2019 before violence escalated in the west Africa nation,” it said.
In Yemen, continued violence and economic decline as well as severe disruption to the humanitarian response are likely to persist over the coming months.
“Over 16 million Yemenis are expected to face high levels of acute food insecurity by June 2021, an increase of some 3 million since the end of last year,” the report said.
According to the report, in conflict-hit northern Nigeria, projections for the June – August lean season show that the number of people in the emergency level of acute food insecurity is likely to almost double to over 1.2 million, since the same period last year.
“In the next six months, food and nutrition insecurity is set to rise considerably in northern Nigeria with some 13 million people affected unless food and livelihood assistance is scaled up,” it said.
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.
Other countries identified by the report as amongst the worst hunger hotspots where life-threatening hunger is on the rise are Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, The Sudan and Syria Arab Republic.
In the report, the FAO director-general, QU Dongyu said “The magnitude of suffering is alarming.
“It is incumbent upon all of us to act now and to act fast to save lives, safeguard livelihoods and prevent the worst situation,” he warned.
“In many regions, the planting season has just started or is about to start.
“We must run against the clock and not let this opportunity to protect, stabilise and even possibly increase local food production slip away,” Mr Dongyu urged.
“We are seeing a catastrophe unfold before our very eyes. Famine driven by conflict and fuelled by climate shocks and the COVID 19 hunger pandemic is knocking on the door for millions of families,” the executive director of WFP, David Beasley said in the report.
“We urgently need three things to stop millions from dying of starvation, the fighting has to stop.
“We must be allowed access to vulnerable communities to provide life-saving help and above all, we need donors to step up with the US$5.5 billion we are asking for this year,” he added.
The report provides country-specific recommendations and critical short term actions in each hunger hotspot to address existing and future needs.
These range from scaling up food and nutrition assistance, distribution drought-tolerant seeds, treating and vaccinating livestock to rolling out cash for work schemes, rehabilitating water harvesting structures and increasing income opportunities for vulnerable communities.
“Agricultural production is possible and essential, especially where access is constrained and people are even more reliant on local production,” the report said.
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