Acute food insecurity: 4 African countries remain at highest concern level

Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan and Sudan remain at the highest level of concern, finds report by FAO, WFP

By Madhumita Paul
Published: Thursday 02 November 2023
Photo: iStock__

Acute food insecurity is likely to worsen in 18 hunger hotspots through April 2024, a new outlook report by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) said. 

These hotspots comprise 22 countries or territories, including two regional clusters. The outlook report called Hunger Hotspots for the period November 2023 to April 2024 was released on October 31, 2023.

The selection of hunger hotspots in the document is based on consensus among food security experts and conflict, economic and natural hazards analysts from FAO and WFP.

Read more: Pakistan, Afghanistan among global hunger hotspots: UN report

The countries identified are: Burkina Faso, Mali, Sudan, South Sudan, Niger, Chad, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Palestine, Syrian Arab Republic, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Djibouti, Yemen, Somalia, Ethiopia, Malawi, Zimbabwe, Haiti, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. 

Food security is expected to significantly deteriorate for the next six months in these countries.

All of these hotspots have populations that are experiencing or are expected to experience critical levels of acute food insecurity, in addition to worsening drivers that are expected to exacerbate life-threatening conditions in the coming months.

Source: FAO, WFP

Of these, four African countries — Burkina Faso, Mali, South Sudan and Sudan — remain at the highest level of concern. Due to the severe escalation of conflict in the Gaza Strip in October 2023, Palestine was added to the list of countries / territories of highest concern. 

Read more: Trouble ahead for Horn of Africa as white maize stocks dry up

Afghanistan, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Haiti, Pakistan, Somalia, the Syrian Arab Republic, and Yemen are identified as high-risk areas in the report. The report listed key drivers of food insecurity, which include conflict, dry climatic conditions, economic shocks, high food prices and extreme weather events.

Weather extremes, such as heavy rains, tropical storms, cyclones, flooding, drought and increased climate variability, remain significant drivers of acute food insecurity in some countries and regions.

Mali and Burkina Faso, which already have high levels of acute food insecurity, may see an increase in both countries during the forecast period, owing primarily to escalating levels of violence, which exacerbates already severe access constraints.

Critical levels of food insecurity are expected to persist across South Sudan, even after harvests begin in October, due to insufficient crop production, high staple food prices and a lack of resources to support the growing number of returnees from Sudan.

In Sudan, the devastating effects of the conflict on livelihoods, agriculture, and the economy as a whole, combined with the internal displacement of 4.4 million people between April and October 2023, will result in high levels of acute food insecurity.

Read more: Less than half of hunger funding needs met, says report

It is essential to avert the further deterioration of acute food insecurity and malnutrition, the report said. However, humanitarian access is limited in various ways, including insecurity due to organised violence or conflict, the presence of administrative or bureaucratic impediments, and movement restrictions.

The report provided country-specific recommendations on priorities for emergency response as well as anticipatory actions to address existing humanitarian needs and ensure shortterm protective interventions before new needs materialise.

The cutoff date for the analysis and information contained in this report was October 17, 2023.

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