9 March 2018

Climate shocks and conflict are increasing hunger, says new UN report

Extreme weather events and internal conflicts across the world are exacerbating hunger and insecurity, according to the UN’s food agency.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) released its latest Crop Prospects and Food Situation report this week, which highlights how the combination of conflict and climate change is creating a maelstrom of problems for millions of people.

37 countries are now reliant on outside help to meet their food needs, unchanged from the last report three months ago.

16 of these countries have been impacted by civil wars and conflict which are continuing to displace millions of people, preventing agricultural activities, and, creating high hunger rates among the populace.

Conflict can also directly lead to inflation, and the Congo has seen in food prices double in 2017 as a result.

East Africa has been hit by a 7.2 percent drop in cereal production, and Somalia is also expecting a 20 percent decrease in crop yields due to below average seasonal rains.

Kenya has seen rainfall 80 percent below average levels. Madagascar has had the opposite problem with unfavourable rains causing a drop in crop yields adding to food insecurity.

According to a statement released by the FAO, “inadequate and erratic rainfall poses a growing threat to food security in Southern Africa as well as in Eastern Africa, where many rural households have suffered from four consecutive drought-affected agricultural seasons”.

The FAO issued a Special Alert for Southern Africa last week due to dry conditions and high temperatures causing a reduction in harvests, which will “intensify food insecurity in 2018, increasing the number of people in need of assistance". 

The 37 countries listed in need of food assistance include a large number of African countries, also including Nigeria, Sudan, Chad and Mali.

Hunger is worldwide though with Syria, Afghanistan, North Korea, Haiti, Yemen, Pakistan, Myanmar and Iraq also in need.

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