Warning: UN Report Reveals Increasing Burst of Perplexity as More Countries Plunge into Acute Food Insecurity
On Tuesday May 30, 2023, a WFP-Humanitarian Air Service chopper caused a commotion as it landed in Titao in the north of Burkina Faso, where it seeks to assist 1.1 million people in dire need of help. In a photo generously shared by WFP/Cheick Omar Bandaogo, the helicopter was seen hovering above a helpless and impoverished mass.
The challenges in Somalia are as bleak as ever, according to Michael Dunford, the Regional Director for the World Food Programme (WFP) in East Africa, who described the situation as a scenario where “people forced from their homes, having lost their livestock and their livelihoods, desperately need the support that the World Food Programme is providing to keep them alive”.
But Burkina Faso, Haiti, Mali, and Sudan, which have now made it to the highest alert level in the latest UN Hunger Hotspots report, are not any different. They have joined Afghanistan, Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia, and Yemen as critical hotspots, bringing the total number of hotspot countries to 22, up from 18. Dunford’s fear is that it will get worse unless there are significant humanitarian support and attention in those areas.
A report titled ‘Hunger Hotspots – FAO-WFP early warnings on acute food insecurity,’ which was co-produced periodically by WFP and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and was published on Monday, May 29, called for urgent humanitarian action to save lives and livelihoods, prevent starvation and death in these hotspots with the possibility of worsening between June and November.
The return of El Niño in the months ahead is already causing widespread scare in vulnerable nations globally due to the episodic climate phenomenon that occurs when the surface of the central and eastern Pacific Ocean warms up, setting off climate shocks around the world. Unsurprisingly, Cindy McCain, WFP’s Executive Director, expressed fears that not only are more people in more places going hungry than ever, but the severity of the hunger they face is much worse than ever. The report acknowledges that if something isn’t done soon, the results will be catastrophic.
The report also warns of the conflict in Sudan, which has entered its seventh week. The risk of spillover for its neighbours is high, increased by the fact that Burma, the Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Pakistan, and Syria are all hotspots of very high concern. The report provides specific recommendations for prioritising country-specific emergency response plans, as well as anticipatory action, to prevent starvation and death. It also highlights the impact of insecurity, bureaucratic barriers, and movement restrictions on humanitarian access.
It is equally important to strengthen anticipatory action in humanitarian and development assistance, says the report. This will ensure that predictable threats do not become full-blown humanitarian disasters.
Michael Dunford has called for immediate support to avert a further deterioration of acute hunger and malnutrition, particularly in the hotspots that have been placed on the highest alert.