Millions pushed deeper into hunger in West and Central Africa
CAPE TOWN - Millions of families in West and Central Africa are growing more hungry and desperate by the day as food prices rocket, stoking a widening hunger emergency in a region engulfed by conflict and the socio-economic fallout from Covid-19, the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) said on Friday.
It said immediate action is required to prevent a disaster.
More than 31 million people in the region are expected to be food insecure and unable to feed themselves during the coming June–August lean season, the period when food is scarce before the next harvest.
That number is more than 30% higher than last year and is the highest level in the best part of a decade, according to the Cadre Harmonisé, a joint food security analysis released under the auspices of the Permanent Interstate Committee for Drought Control in the Sahel (CILSS).
“In West Africa, conflict is already driving hunger and misery. The relentless rise in prices acts as a misery multiplier, driving millions deeper into hunger and desperation. Even when food is available, families simply cannot afford it, and soaring prices are pushing a basic meal beyond the reach of millions of poor families who were already struggling to get by,” said Chris Nikoi, WFP’s regional director for West Africa.
Food prices have increased dramatically across the region. Local staples are up by nearly 40% over the five-year average, and in some areas prices are up by more than 200%, according to WFP.
This is caused in part by the economic impact of measures put in place to contain the spread of the coronavirus over the past year. People’s incomes have plummeted due to reductions in trade, tourism, informal activities and remittances.
“Until markets stabilise, food assistance may be the only source of hope for millions of families. The needs are immense, and unless we can raise the funds we need, we simply won’t be able to keep up. We cannot let 2021 become the year of the ration cut,” Nikoi warned.