Africa

Over 30 million in 5 African countries may need food aid this year: Report

More than 55 million in 7 IGAD member states faced acute hunger in 2022 — an increase of 13 million from 2021

 
By Madhumita Paul
Published: Monday 19 June 2023
The number of people facing acute food insecurity in the IGAD member states has rapidly increased since 2020, by more than 10 million additional people each year, the report showed. Photo: iStock

The escalating hunger crisis in African countries needs urgent intervention as up to 30 million people in five countries in the continent are projected to require humanitarian food assistance this year, according to a report.

The Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) is a regional economic community and comprises eight member states: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

The IGAD Climate Prediction and Applications Centre (ICPAC) released the IGAD Regional Focus of the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) 2023 on June 14, 2023 in Nairobi.


Also read: Is the world headed for another food crisis?


The population facing acute food insecurity in the IGAD Member States has rapidly increased since 2020, by more than 10 million additional people each year, the report found. The projections are available for five of the eight IGAD countries: Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda.

The report used the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) scale for acute food insecurity. The five-phase scale provides common standards for classifying the severity of acute food insecurity and global hunger.

According to the report, in 2022, an alarming 55.45 million people across Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda needed urgent food assistance (IPC Phase 3 or ‘crisis’). Unfortunately, no data was available for Eritrea.

Over 301,000 people in Somalia and South Sudan are struggling with IPC Phase 5, also called ‘catastrophe’. Over 8.7 million people are in ‘emergency’ phase (IPC Phase 4), the report said.

Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan all had the largest populations facing high levels of acute food insecurity in the seven-year history of the Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC).

The compounding effects of multiple shocks, including drought, macro-economic challenges and conflict, drove rising levels of acute food insecurity across the IGAD region.


Also read: More children in central Sahel will face severe hunger in June-August 2023: Survey


Weather extremes were considered the primary driver of acute food insecurity in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, where a total of 35.85 million people faced high levels of acute food insecurity.

Economic shocks were considered the primary driver in Djibouti, South Sudan and Sudan, where a total of 19.59 million people faced high levels of acute food insecurity.

Getting worse

The report projects a grim picture for 2023. According to projections, Kenya and Somalia are again facing sharp deteriorations in acute food insecurity.

In Somalia, 6.6 million people are projected to face IPC Phase 3 or above in April-June 2023 — an overall 18 per cent increase compared with the peak 2022 figure due to the continued impacts of five below-average rainy seasons, high food prices and conflict.

A record-breaking five failed rainy seasons have plunged Somalia into a severe drought, the worst in 40 years.

In Kenya, 5.4 million people are projected to face IPC Phase 3 or above in March–June 2023, the highest in the history of this regional focus, due primarily to the continued impacts of the unprecedented drought and high food prices.


Also read: Artificial Intelligence, satellite-driven crop monitoring to help Kenya farmers boost yield


Populations with the most severe levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phases 4 and 5) will remain extremely elevated during 2023, with 7.5 million people projected in ‘emergency’ (IPC Phase 4) in Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan. This projection does not account for the impact of the recent clashes in Sudan. 

“We must, therefore, act together, urgently and in solidarity to reverse the trend of escalating numbers of people facing high levels of acute food insecurity,” said Workneh Gebeyehu, executive secretary, IGAD.

Addressing the dire food crises in the IGAD region requires urgent and coordinated efforts from international organisations, governments, the private sector, regional organisations, civil society and communities, the report added.

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