Rome, The number of people facing acute food insecurity worldwide is expected to continue to rise precipitously, as the food crisis tightens its grip on 19 ‘hunger hotspots’ – driven by rising conflict, weather extremes, and economic instability aggravated by the pandemic and the ripple effects of the crisis in Ukraine, a joint UN report released today has found.
The ‘Hunger Hotspots – FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity’ report – issued by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the UN World Food Programme (WFP) calls for urgent humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods and prevent famine in hotspot countries where acute food insecurity is expected to worsen from October 2022 to January 2023. The report lays out country-specific recommendations on priorities for anticipatory action – short-term protective measures to be put in place before new humanitarian needs materialize; and emergency response – actions to address existing humanitarian needs.
The report spotlights the hunger crisis in the Horn of Africa, where the longest drought in over 40 years is forecast to continue – with the fifth failed rainy season in a row on the horizon – adding to the cumulative, devastating effects that successive rainfall deficits, economic crises and conflict have had on vulnerable households since 2020. Water scarcity has led to below average harvests, livestock deaths, and forced hundreds of thousands of people off their land in search of sustenance, while increasing the risk of intercommunal and resource-based conflict.
Up to 26 million people are expected to face Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 and above) levels of food insecurity in Somalia, southern and eastern Ethiopia, and northern and eastern Kenya.
With humanitarian assistance at risk of being cut due to funding shortfalls, the spectre of large-scale deaths from hunger looms large in Somalia, with famine likely to take hold in the districts of Baidoa and Burhakaba in Bay region come October. Without an adequate humanitarian response, analysts expect that by December, as many as four children or two adults per 10 000 people will die every day. Hundreds of thousands are already facing starvation today with staggering levels of malnutrition expected among children under 5.
Globally, an all-time high of 970 000 people are expected to face catastrophic hunger (IPC Phase 5) and are starving or projected to starve or at risk of deterioration to catastrophic conditions in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen, if no action is taken – ten times more than six years ago when only two countries had populations in Phase 5.
According to the report, Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen remain at the ‘highest alert’ as hotspots, alone account for almost a million people facing catastrophic levels of hunger (IPC Phase 5 ‘Catastrophe’) with starvation and death a daily reality and where extreme levels of mortality and malnutrition may unfold without immediate action.
The Democratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Kenya, the Sahel, the Sudan and Syria remain ‘of very high concern’ with deteriorating conditions – as in the June edition of the quarterly report – but the alert is extended to the Central African Republic and Pakistan. Meanwhile, Guatemala, Honduras and Malawi have been added to the list of countries, joining Madagascar, Sri Lanka, and Zimbabwe that remain hunger hotspots.
Humanitarian assistance is crucial to save lives and prevent starvation, death and the total collapse of livelihoods – the report notes, highlighting that insecurity, administrative and bureaucratic impediments, movement restrictions and physical barriers severely limit humanitarian responders’ access to people facing acute hunger in eleven of the hotspot countries, including all six of the countries where populations are facing or are projected to face starvation (IPC Phase 5), or are at risk of deterioration towards catastrophic conditions.
The report calls for targeted humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods in the 19 hunger hotspots, noting that in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, humanitarian action will be critical in preventing further starvation and death.
Note to Editors
Identified through forward-looking analysis, the ‘hunger hotspots’ are areas showing the potential for acute food insecurity to increase during the outlook period. The hotspots are selected through a consensus-based process involving WFP and FAO field and technical teams, alongside analysts specialized in conflict, economic risks, and natural hazards.
Source: Somali National News Agency