‘International Community must Act to Avert Largest Food Crisis in History’

Gilbert Ekugbe

The European Commissioner for International Partnerships, Ms. Jutta Urpilainen, has urged the international community to act in order to avert the largest food crisis in history and the social, economic and political upheaval that could follow.  

Urpilainen stated this during the launch of annual report by the Global Netweork against Food Crises (GNAFC), an international alliance of the United Nations, the European Union, governmental and non-governmental agencies working to tackle food crises.

She said: “While we must continue to help partner countries in transition to sustainable agri-food systems and resilient supply chains by tapping the full potential of the Green Deal and the Global Gateway.”

According to her, Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has jeopardizsed global food security, but stressed that the EU is committed to addressing all drivers of food insecurity, namely conflict, climate change, poverty and inequalities.

The European Commissioner for Humanitarian Aid and Crisis Management, Janez Lenarčič, said: “There should be no place for hunger in the twenty-first century. Yet, we are seeing too many people pushed away from the path to prosperity. 

“A clear message resonated today: if we want to prevent a major global food crisis, we need to act now, and we need to work together. I believe the international community is up to this task. By leveraging collective action and pooling resources, our global solidarity is stronger and far reaching. 

“As demonstrating with its aid funding as well as humanitarian-development-peace synergies, the EU remains committed to address this food and nutrition crisis together with the international community.”

In his own contribution, the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), Director-General, Mr. Qu Dongyu, said: “The tragic link between conflict and food insecurity is once again evident and alarming. 

“While the international community has courageously stepped up to the calls for urgent famine prevention and mitigation action, resource mobilization to efficiently tackle the root causes of food crises due to, among others, the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, the climate crisis, global hotspots and the war in Ukraine, still struggles to match the growing needs. 

“The results of this year’s Global Report further demonstrate the need to collectively address acute food insecurity at the global level across humanitarian, development and peace contexts.”  

On his part, the Executive Director of the World Food Programme, Mr. David Beasley, said acute hunger is soaring to unprecedented levels, pointing out that conflict, the climate crisis, COVID-19 and surging food and fuel costs have created a perfect storm.

 Beasley added: “Now we have got the war in Ukraine piling catastrophe on top of catastrophe. Millions of people in dozens of countries are being driven to the edge of starvation. The global situation just keeps on getting worse. We urgently need emergency funding to pull them back from the brink and turn this global crisis around before it’s too lat.  

“The findings of the report demonstrate the need for a greater prioritisation of smallholder agriculture as a frontline humanitarian response, to overcome access constraints and as a solution for reverting negative long-term trends. 

“Furthermore, promoting structural changes to the way external financing is distributed, so that humanitarian assistance can be reduced over time through longer-term development investments, can tackle the root causes of hunger.”

The Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) had reported that about 19.4 million people would face food insecurity across Nigeria between June and August 2022.

The report, processed in collaboration with the Federal Ministry of Agriculture and Rural Development (FMARD) and other stakeholders, analyses acute food and nutrition insecurity in the Sahel and West African region.

The report said the food crisis would affect Nigerians in 21 states and FCT including, 416,000 Internally Displaced Persons (IDPs).

Meanwhile, the WFP in a statement obtained from its website, said the number of people facing acute food insecurity and requiring urgent life-saving food assistance and livelihood support continues to grow at an alarming rate, saying that this makes it more urgent than ever to tackle the root causes of food crises rather than just responding after they occur. 

The report revealed that around 193 million people in 53 countries or territories experienced acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels (IPC/CH Phase 3-5) in 2021, which represented an increase of nearly 40 million people compared with the already record numbers of 2020.

“Of these, over half a million people (570 000) in Ethiopia, Southern Madagascar, South Sudan and Yemen were classified in the most severe phase of acute food insecurity catastrophe (IPC/CH Phase 5) and required urgent action to avert widespread collapse of livelihoods, starvation and death, “it stated. 

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