New FAO’s State of Food Security report shows that East Africa is sub-region most affected by hunger due to conflict and climate change.
East Africa has once again been thrust into the global spotlight as a region facing rising hunger due to conflict and climate change, a new edition of the annual United Nations report on World Food Security and nutrition released today reveals.
After steadily declining for over a decade, global hunger is on the rise again, affecting 815 million people in 2016, or 11 per cent of the global population,
The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017 shows that there are 38 million more food insecure people around the world than the previous year.
The civil and political conflicts in South Sudan, Burundi, Somalia and Congo, have made Eastern Africa to rank highest among regions with the biggest proportion of food insecure population in the world.
The crisis of rising hunger has been compounded by the growing severity of natural disasters particularly last year’s severe drought and the army-worm infestation that pushed millions of people across Africa into starvation.
According to the report, out of the 22% (179m) of the total food insecure people in the world are in Africa, out of which 33% are in Eastern Africa.
The first UN global assessment on food security and nutrition to be released following the adoption of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, further highlights persistently high rates of malnutrition which it says threatens the health of millions of people worldwide.
Although the international community agreed to end all forms of hunger and malnutrition by 2030 the five UN agencies say this goal will not be attained unless “we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition.”
Some 155 million children aged under five are stunted (too short for their age), the report says, while 52 million suffer from wasting, meaning their weight is too low for their height. An estimated 41 million children are now overweight. Anaemia among women and adult obesity are also cause for concern. These trends are a consequence not only of conflict and climate change but also of sweeping changes in dietary habits as well as economic slowdowns.
“Over the past decade, conflicts have risen dramatically in number and become more complex and intractable in nature,” the heads of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD), the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) the World Food Programme (WFP) and the World Health Organization (WHO) said in their joint foreword to the report. They stressed that some of the highest proportions of food-insecure and malnourished children in the world are now concentrated in conflict zones.
“This has set off alarm bells we cannot afford to ignore: we will not end hunger and all forms of malnutrition by 2030 unless we address all the factors that undermine food security and nutrition. Securing peaceful and inclusive societies is a necessary condition to that end,” they said.
Famine struck in parts of South Sudan for several months in early 2017, and there is a high risk that it could reoccur there as well as appear in other conflict-affected places, namely northeast Nigeria, Somalia and Yemen, they noted.
Because of the conflict in South Sudan, Uganda is hosting more than 1.5m refugees, more than a million of them coming from South Sudan.
But even in regions that are more peaceful droughts or floods linked in part to the El Niño weather phenomenon, as well as the global economic slowdown, have also seen food security and nutrition deteriorate, they added.
The prevalence of hunger in countries affected by conflict is 1.4 – 4.4 percentage points higher than in other countries
In conflict settings compounded by conditions of institutional and environmental fragility, the prevalence is 11 and 18 percentage points higher
People living in countries affected by protracted crises are nearly 2.5 times more likely to be undernourished than people elsewhere