Protracted conflicts and the economic impact of the COVID-19 worsened food crises last year, increasing the global total of people affected by 20 million to around 155.3 million.
100 million people were plunged into acute food insecurity because of conflict, followed by economic shocks (40 million), and weather extremes (16 million), said a report by the Global Network Against Food Crises released last week.
Africa was disproportionately hit, accounting for 63% of the global total number of people in crisis or worse.
66%, or around 103.2 million, of people in food crisis or worse came from just ten countries. 56% of these affected people are from five countries that are members of the Organisation of the Islamic Cooperation (OIC) – Yemen (13.5 mln), Afghanistan (13.2 mln), Syria (12.4 mln), Sudan (9.6 mln), Nigeria (9.2 mln).
The remaining five countries most acutely affected are the Democratic Republic of the Congo (21.8 mln), Ethiopia (8.6 mln), SOuth Sudan (6.5 mln), Zimbabwe (4.3 mln), and Haiti (4.1 mln).
Other OIC member countries with high numbers of acutely food-insecure people in 2020 were Burkina Faso (5.2 mln, or 24% of population), Cameroon (6.2 mln, 24%), and Chad (3.1 mln, 21%).
The situation will not get better this year, warned the GNAFC that was founded in 2016 by the European Union, and U.N. bodies FAO and WFP.
Conflict will remain the major driver of food crises in 2021.
“High levels of acute food insecurity will persist in countries with protracted conflicts by limiting access to livelihoods and agricultural fields, uprooting people from their homes, and increasing displaced populations’ reliance on humanitarian aid for their basic needs,” said the report.
Additionally, the economic repercussions of COVID-19 will exacerbate acute food insecurity in fragile economies.
“If there is no improvement, the economic consequences may become more severe as the year progresses,” the report added.
“In net food-importing countries, weakening currencies wil continue to push up foo dprices and further curtail purchasing power.”
Food crisis or worse is defined as any lack of food that threatens lives, livelihoods, or both.
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