How the war in Ukraine is affecting food security in Sub-Saharan Africa

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A Somalian girl carries her sibling along land left dry by persistent drought.
A Somalian girl carries her sibling along land left dry by persistent drought.
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  • The DRC is the world's most food insecure nation, with 25.9 million in need of urgent food aid.
  • The WFP needs R368 million more on its monthly wheat imports for relief work.
  • Conflict and climate change are the two major problems affecting food security in Africa.

The Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC) is the worst affected among a group of 12 countries in the world in need of immediate food aid, the majority of which are from Sub-Saharan Africa.

The countries have populations of over three million needing immediate food aid.

The Integrated Phase Classification 3 (IPC3), the crisis stage, according to the "Global Report on Food Crises 2022" report, was released on Monday. The following countries - DRC 25.9 million people, Afghanistan 22.8 million, Nigeria 19.5 million, Yemen 19 million, Ethiopia between 14-15 million, South Sudan 7.7 million, Somalia 6 million, Sudan 6 million, Pakistan 4.7 million, Haiti 4.5 million, Niger 4.4 million and, lastly, Kenya 3.4 million - are faced with acute food shortages.

The latest challenge for African countries and food security, the report says, is the ongoing war in Ukraine.

"A few countries/territories were expected to see a modest improvement in food security in 2022, as their economies start to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic or good harvests bolstering household food supplies in the early part of the year. However, these projections were largely conducted prior to the war in Ukraine and do not account for the potential impact on food security in these countries," the report says.

ALSO READ | Africa to experience sharp food price increases this month if war in Ukraine goes on - report

Given the repercussions of the war in Ukraine on global food, energy and fertiliser prices and supplies, the situation could get worse in years to come.

All the countries on the list receive food aid and relief from organisations, such as the World Food Programme (WFP). 

The situation in Ukraine means that aid agencies have to spend more to secure much-needed relief.

It's an alarm for the WFP, which last month said rising wheat prices and a lack of pulses from Ukraine are projected to increase food procurement costs for the aid agency by approximately R368 million per month.

The sudden high cost of procuring aid because of the war in Ukraine, the emerging humanitarian crisis, coupled with a decreased budget from international partners, further compromise countries in IPC3 in Sub-Saharan Africa.

"G7 governments and the EU have pledged $2.6 billion (R41.6 billion) into the UN's humanitarian appeals to date, but these pale in comparison to the promises they made last year to commit $8.5 billion to end famine.

Oxfam Global Food Security and Livelihoods expert, Emily Farr, in response to findings in the report, said:

To make matters even worse, some rich countries have effectively cut some of their international aid to countries facing mass hunger, malnutrition and starvation, such as Mali and Syria, as they diverted aid to other crises.

According to numerous reports so far this year, major deteriorations are anticipated in northern Nigeria, Yemen, Burkina Faso and the Niger, due to conflict, as well as in Kenya, South Sudan, Angola and Somalia, mostly because of the impact of consecutive seasons of below-average rains.

The News24 Africa Desk is supported by the Hanns Seidel Foundation. The stories produced through the Africa Desk and the opinions and statements that may be contained herein do not reflect those of the Hanns Seidel Foundation.

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