More than 31m people likely to face food insecurity and hunger in East Africa

KAMPALA – An estimated 31.4 million people in the Eastern Africa are likely to face acute food insecurity and hunger unless states take appropriate response mechanisms.

A regional research report by the Inter-governmental Authority on Development [IGAD] and Food Security Information Network [FSIN] says that the number of people likely to face food insecurity in the region has jumped from 28.8 million in 2018 to 31.4 million in a period of two years.

Countries to be severely affected include; Sudan with 9.6 million people already on the verge hunger, Ethiopia accommodating at least 8.6 million people gravely threatened, and South Sudan has about 6.5 million people threatened.

Others with eminent threats are; Eritrea, Kenya and Somalia. The regional bloc of IGAD include other members like Uganda and Djibouti.

The report largely blames this trajectory to climatic changes, and conflicts in the region.

Ethiopia has had protracted running battles and tribal unrest that have gravely affected agricultural production and farming.

South Sudan has been entangled in a civil conflict causing dire humanitarian need for regional and global intervention. This has not allowed the local population the appropriate environment for agricultural production.

Uganda is home to more than 1 million refugees and internally displaced persons; all are depending on humanitarian aid by the United Nations.

The report states that short term humanitarian remedies to the food insecurity situation are not sustainable, but a need to initiate a total paradigm shift to long term interventions with coherent and well-coordinated investments targeting the root cause of the food crisis in the region is required.

Commenting on the report, the Executive Secretary for IGAD, Worknenh Geneyehu says, “All key players should work together in the spirit of brotherhood to build efficient, inclusive, and resilient food systems to mitigate effects of drought, but also to fend off possibilities of conflict as well as supporting durable peace in the region.”

The report mentions that countries know the weather patterns in the region, and should not wait for drought to turn into famine, but always work to avoid families sleeping hungry.

The report says at least an estimated 3.5 million children under 5 years were affected by severe food insecurity causing malnutrition and other dire effects in 2020. Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan had the biggest of numbers with majority of the children with extremely weak immune systems to resist diseases, causing dire susceptibility to delays in development, growth and eventually death.

Additionally, at least 14.1million children across all the six IGAD states were stunted with Ethiopia, Sudan and Uganda having the majority of this category.

David Phiri, the Regional Coordinator for Food and Agricultural Organization for Eastern Africa challenged governments to develop collective approaches to support communities improve their food and nutrition security as well as preventing them from falling into hunger.

“We need to support communities to build resilient and sustainable agro-food systems, improve extension services, and market access as well as timely anticipatory and emergency humanitarian response to crises,” he adds.

The IGAD block formulated a joint weather monitoring initiative that produces all time reliable weather prediction and reports to guide response and collective action.

The region is home to at least 4.2 million refugees and asylum seekers, while at least 9.5 million people are kept in Internally Displaced People’s Camps in Ethiopia, South Sudan, Sudan and Somalia.

The report recommends that IGAD member states take a collective approach in providing adequate life-saving food aid, livelihood and nutrition support to populations under eminent threat, strengthening social protection, providing quality curative nutrition and scaling up monitoring mechanisms on food security and nutrition.

He also recommends strengthened peace building initiatives like social cohesion which would stem to solve the root cause of conflicts and insecurity in the block.

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