Nearly 50 million people face hunger in West and Central Africa, partly due to ‘climate shocks’

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UN humanitarian officials said Tuesday that as many as 48 million people in West and Central Africa could go hungry in the coming months due to acute food insecurity stemming from armed conflict, Covid-19, inflation and a worsening climate emergency. New warning that .

Officials from four UN agencies – the World Food Program (WFP), the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) – this week highlighted the December 2022 crisis and called for help. was amplified. The number of hungry people in West and Central Africa will reach a “record high” in 2023, an analysis warns “unless urgent and long-term solutions to address this crisis are implemented soon”.

“The declining food security and nutrition situation in West Africa is truly heartbreaking,” WFP Regional Director Chris Nikoi said in a statement. huge investmentIn strengthening the capacity of communities and individuals to withstand shock,Prioritize local and long-term solutions to food production, transformation and access for vulnerable groups. ”

For the first time in the Sahel region (the semi-arid zone stretching from Senegal and southern Mauritania on the Atlantic coast to Sudan and Eritrea in the Red Sea), 45,000 people are at risk of experiencing catastrophic levels of hunger. one step away from famine.

Most of those affected live in Mali and Burkina Faso, the epicenter of the ongoing fight against Islamic extremist groups, including al-Qaeda-affiliated Jamaat Nusrat al-Islam Wal Muslim on behalf of Mali. France, the United States, and mostly civilian Russian forces, as well as the forces of several African nations, intervened in the war to support local government forces.

In the wider region, persistent droughts, heat waves, floods and other extreme weather events are adversely affecting water supplies, crops, livestock and agricultural production, and people are displaced overwhelmingly.

Nikoi saidAxios “If you dig even deeper, the climate has played a big role in why these things have reached the levels they have reached today.”

Like many countries in the world, food prices in Africa soared after Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. War pushed up the cost of fertilizer and fuel, and trade restrictions exacerbated shortages across the continent.

“The situation is alarming,” said Anne Defrey, a UNICEF regional nutrition expert in West and Central Africa.Associated Press“Last year saw a significant increase in the number of children admitted to health facilities with severe wasting across the Sahel region, an increase of 31%.”

“In many areas, especially those where communities are in lockdown, it is becoming increasingly difficult for families to find nutritious food,” she added.

according to bloomberg:

According to data collected by WFP, Burkina Faso has suspended grain exports to Niger, Nigeria has suspended rice shipments to Benin, Ivory Coast has suspended plantain exports to Burkina Faso…

The towns of Menaka in eastern Mali and Zibo in northern Burkina Faso are among 30 areas identified by WFP as areas where food transport is hampered by insecurity.

“We are seeing areas in total lockdown,” said Alexandre Rexiat, senior emergency preparedness and response adviser to the WFP, at a press conference in Dakar.

FAO’s West Africa subregional coordinator Robert Guay said the food security situation in the region was “unacceptable”.

“This trend will likely continue to worsen the food and nutrition situation, so we must.address the root causes of this crisis“It is time to take action to boost agricultural production to achieve food sovereignty in our region.”

Much of Africa beyond the Sahel is also facing historic food crises. According to the Red Cross, 146 million Africans are hungry.

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