Even before the war in Ukraine, severe food insecurity reached a new high in 2021, hitting nearly 40 million more people as a result of conflict, climate crises and economic shocks, the global network crisis loomed on Wednesday. food.
• Also read: Famine threatens 20 million people
• Also read: Russia accused of causing ‘global food crisis’
Last year, 193 million people in 53 countries were in severe food insecurity, in need of emergency help to survive.
This means that, even with help, many have suffered from chronic malnutrition, indicate 17 actors of this network, created in 2016 by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the World Food Program (MAP) , the European Union and NGOs.
This classification covers levels 3 to 5 of the global food security level: “crisis”, “emergency” and “disaster”.
Although expanding geographical coverage is pulling numbers up, they have not stopped growing “at an alarming rate”, “with an uninterrupted increase every year since 2018” and a record in 2021, WFP underlined. .
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, conducted since the end of February, promises to exacerbate the vulnerabilities of countries highly dependent on Russian and Ukrainian exports of cereals or fertilizers, such as Somalia. As well as the terrible drought that is hitting the Horn of Africa at the moment.
Projections for 2022, which at this stage include only 42 of the 53 countries concerned, estimate that 179 to 181.1 million people could suffer from severe food insecurity this year.
The war in Ukraine “has highlighted the interconnected nature and the fragility of food systems”, the FAO said, warning that “the prospects for the future are not good”.
“What we see now is unacceptable (…) we must guarantee the maintenance of food systems, especially for the most vulnerable”, defended Qu Dongyu, Director General of FAO, in a presentation of report on Wednesday.
“Nothing should be left, we should address the root of the problem, not just the consequences,” he pleaded.
In Ethiopia, South Sudan or Madagascar, more than half a million people need “immediate action to prevent widespread collapse of livelihoods, hunger and death”, this number has risen six times since 2016.
The increase recorded in 2021 comes from a “triple toxic combination of conflicts, severe weather, and economic shocks,” the FAO details.
The conflict remains a major cause of food insecurity for 139 million people, with countries experiencing political and humanitarian crises such as the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Ethiopia, Afghanistan and Yemen the most affected. .
The economic difficulties associated with the Covid-19 pandemic also pushed 30.2 million people into extreme hunger.
In addition to the stages of severe drought and now the war in Ukraine, crises are accumulating and “too many factors exacerbating” the risks in Africa, experts warn.
From southern Ethiopia to northern Kenya through Somalia, 20 million inhabitants of the Horn of Africa are now at risk of starvation.
According to Catherine Russell, executive director of Unicef, 10 million children there are in need of life -saving help today.
And around the world, child deaths under five have risen in 2021, he reported on Wednesday.
However, the amount of international assistance paid to 55 countries and territories is at the lowest level recorded in five years, network members complained.
At the beginning of April, several countries pledged to increase their food aid allocated to the Sahel and West Africa to 1.79 billion euros.
However, an additional 1.5 billion dollars will be needed to act now during planting, to increase production and make populations less dependent on aid, the FAO estimates.
“We have solutions and money in banks: we must use it to guarantee global security,” WFP director David Beasly said Wednesday.