The United Nations has warned that acute hunger is likely to soar in over 20 countries in a few months. starvation
According to a report on hunger hotspots published by the agency’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and World Food Programme (WFP), an estimated 34 million people are struggling with emergency levels of acute hunger known as IPC (Integrated food security Phase Classification) 4. This means that these people are ‘one step away from starvation’.
The report states that families in pockets of Yemen and South Sudan are already in the grip of starvation. It also adds that conflict, climate shocks, Covid-19 and, in some places, desert locusts drive acute hunger.
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Addressing the report, FAO Director-General, Qu Dongyu called for immediate action to “save lives.”
“The magnitude of suffering is alarming. It is incumbent upon all of us to act now and act fast to save lives safeguard livelihoods and prevent the worst situation.”
“Catastrophic” levels of acute hunger
The report indicates Northern Nigeria, Yemen and South Sudan are top of the list of countries facing “catastrophic” levels of acute hunger.
Most of the hotspots the report identifies are in Africa. Others are in other regions, including Afghanistan in Asia, Syria and Lebanon in the Middle East and Haiti in Latin America and the Caribbean.
“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, stabilize; even possibly increase local food production slip away.”Qu Dongyu
WFP Executive Director, David Beasley further posited that “We are seeing a catastrophe unfold before our very eyes.”
“Famine – driven by conflict, and fuelled by climate shocks and Covid-19 is knocking on the door for millions of families.”David Beasley also eats
He also indicated the need for three things to ensure “millions” don’t die of starvation. These include firstly, a halt in fighting, increased access to vulnerable communities and a step up in donations.
Earlier this month, the FAO and WFP called for $5.5bn to avert famine, through humanitarian food assistance, cash and emergency livelihood interventions.
Hardest hit regions – up close
The report indicates that the hardest hit region is Latin America and it will be the slowest to recover from the economic decline. It also notes that in the Middle East, rapid currency depreciation and rocketing inflation has seriously affected Yemen, Syria and Lebanon.
Over 16 million Yemenis, in particular, are expected to experience high levels of acute food insecurity by June. This represents an increase of 3 million since the end of last year.
In Africa, the report projects that over 7 million people across South Sudan will face crisis levels of acute food insecurity from April to July 2021. It also identifies Burkina Faso, the DR Congo, Ethiopia and Sudan as part of the worst hunger hotspots on the continent.