Food crisis in 2019 will be linked to climate shocks and conflicts

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A global report published on Thursday 28 March 2019 by several United Nations (UN) agencies and international donors warned that climate shocks and conflicts will remain the primary causes of food crises in the world in 2019. If we rely on the drafters of the report, Africa is disproportionately affected.

In 2018, more than 113 million people in 53 countries were on the brink of famine, particularly in Africa, says the report published on Tuesday in Brussels as a prelude to a high-level expert meeting on the subject.

Yemen, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Syria, Sudan, South Sudan, and the northern part of Nigeria were the eight countries most affected by acute malnutrition, according to the report, which has been studying in detail each year since three years the 50 most struggling countries to feed their population.

Africa is “disproportionately” affected by acute hunger, with nearly 72 million people involved, said to AFP Dominique burgeon, head of emergencies at the UN food and agriculture Agency, FAO, during a telephone interview.

“Up to 80% of the population” of countries on the brink of famine “depend on Agriculture” he said. “We must provide them with both emergency humanitarian aid to feed themselves and livelihoods by relaying agriculture” and food production, he said.

For 2019, the report alerts on the situation of countries bordering on conflict, which overwhelmingly host refugees, and in turn find themselves in food fragility.

Food shortages in the world

“Particularly in Egypt, Jordan, Lebanon and Turkey, where Syrian refugees are hosted, in Bangladesh, where Rohingya come from Myanmar, Uganda, which houses refugees from South Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Cameroon and Burundi, where the refugees from the Central African Republic and Dr Congo, Colombia, Ecuador and Peru, where the Venezuelan migrants flock, are arriving, says the report, citing also “the countries around Lake Chad in Africa where they take refuge” populations driven by violence related to Boko Haram “.

Venezuela, for which reliable data had so far been lacking, should be declared in a State of food crisis in 2019, says Mr. burgeon, saying “concerned” about the “significant and significant” increase in poverty in this country struck by a mass emigration.

In Afghanistan, food insecurity “worsened” in 2018 after severe droughts, stresses the expert.

“In the region of Herat, I met families of farmers forced to sell their oxen, used for ploughing, in order to feed themselves: this is the pinnacle of food vulnerability when there is no more seed and more means of cultivating. They need to be helped to diversify their sources of income, for example by developing saffron production, “he said.

Iraq and Syria suffered from the same drought: it cancelled the resilience of Syrian farmers during the eight years of conflict, according to Mr. burgeon.

-Syria: helping the seed sector

The Syrian production of wheat thus “massively” fell last year, to 1.2 million tonnes, while it averaged 4.1 MT from 2002 to 2011, before the conflict: “it is the lowest production for 30 years (1989),” said Mr. burgeon, who wishes a the “seed” sector in this country, formerly a Middle Eastern granary.

The report provides for 2019 for an increase in food insecurity in Haiti, the poorest State in the Americas, in a State of “chronic vulnerability”, according to Mr. burgeon.

In Central America, the report points out the risks to the “dry corridor”: Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador and Nicaragua, as well as the West of Costa Rica and Panama. In this area, affected by climate change and the El Niño phenomenon, 45 million inhabitants live below the poverty line.

In addition to FAO, the food security information network (FSIN) that drafted the report includes other UN agencies, such as UNICEF or the World Food Programme (WFP), the European Union, USAid, the United States Agency for development, as well as regional committees such as the Permanent Committee on drought control in the Sahel (CILSS).

Moctar FICOU/VivAfrik     

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