United Nations agencies report famine-like conditions in West Africa


The United Nations warned on Tuesday that 48 million people in West and Central Africa face acute food insecurity in the next months, a 10-year high caused by instability, weather shocks, COVID-19, and high prices.

Rising temperatures and erratic precipitation have presented increasing dangers to West and Central Africa. Due to the turmoil in Ukraine, one of the world’s poorest regions is battling food and fertilizer shortages.

The number of people without regular access to safe and nutritious food is expected to reach 48 million during the June-August lean season, according to a regional food security analysis presented by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP), humanitarian agency OCHA, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), and children’s agency UNICEF.

A key cause is the plight of countries such as Mali and Burkina Faso in the semi-arid Sahel region south of the Sahara Desert, where an Islamist insurgency has killed thousands and displaced about 2.5 million people.

According to agencies, a record 45,000 people in the Sahel will face terrible hunger, a level just beyond famine.

According to Alexandre Lecuziat, the World Food Programme’s senior Emergency Preparedness, and Response Advisor, fighting has shut off food delivery routes in parts of the Sahel and other conflict zones surrounding Lake Chad and in the Central African Republic.

At a press conference in Dakar, he continued, “We see areas that are completely blocked,” emphasizing that the high cost of using helicopters to reach these areas depletes funds that might be used to buy food.

He projected that the region will cost the World Food Programme $900 million this year.

As a consequence of expected food shortages, an estimated 16.5 million children under the age of five would suffer from acute malnutrition this year.

Even if certain parts of West Africa have increased rainfall and wheat yield in 2022, the region’s dependence on imports makes it vulnerable to high global inflation rates.

FAO West Africa Sub-regional Coordinator Robert Guei: “It is time for action to boost agricultural production in order to achieve food sovereignty in our region.”


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