In Horn of Africa, number of food insecure people has risen by nearly 4 million – Report

farmers battle locust invasion in central SomaliaFILE PHOTO: farmers battle locust invasion in central Somalia.

NAIROBI (Somali Affairs) An estimated 31.4 million people across the IGAD region were classified in crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3+) levels of acute food insecurity in 2020. This figure represents 20% of the global 155 million people that faced food insecurity and required urgent action in 2020, according to a new report by the Regional Focus on the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD).

The 2021 projections point to a grimmer situation, where between 36.7 to 37.2 million people will likely face high levels of acute food insecurity (IPC Phase 3 or above), largely due to conflict, weather extremes, and persistent economic shocks (including the socio-economic repercussions of COVID-19).

The prevailing food security situation in the region was revealed during the launch of the Regional Focus on the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Member States of the 2021 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) that took place on Tuesday.

The report is the culmination of a joint analysis led by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN), under the Global Network Against Food Crises, that provides a comprehensive regional picture of the food security and nutritional situation.

The report indicates that the number of food insecure people (IPC Phase 3+) in the IGAD region has steadily increased from 26.8 million in 2017, to 27 million in 2018, 27.6 million in 2019 (excluding Djibouti), and up to 31.4 million in 2020.

“With 20 percent, of the global number of highly food insecure people in 2020 resident in the IGAD region, short-term humanitarian interventions alone are not enough,’ says Workneh Geneyehu, IGAD Executive Secretary. “There is a need for us to initiate a paradigm shift to a longer-term view that inspires us to come up with coherent, coordinated, and cost-effective development investments that target the root-causes of food crises in our region.”

With proper forwarding planning, Mr. Geneyehu states that drought does not need to turn into famine. “We can avert the chances of families sleeping hungry. With the forecast for a drier than usual season from October to December 2021, we call on our IGAD Member State governments, other regional, international, and key stakeholders, to work together in the spirit of multilateralism and global brotherhood to build efficient, effective, inclusive and resilient food systems, to mitigate the effects of drought, fend off the possibility of conflict thus supporting durable peace for the people of our IGAD region.” adds Geneyehu.

Given the worrying trends in this year’s report, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) of the United Nations recommends a continuation of concerted efforts that help support communities and individuals improve their food and nutrition security, and prevent them from falling into hunger.

“To do this, we need to support governments and communities to build resilient and sustainable agri-food systems. Improving the reach of extension services, peace building initiatives and market access, as well timely anticipatory and emergency humanitarian response to crises, must remain at the core of our collective response to build and protect farmers’ resilience to shocks and crises.” said David Phiri, FAO’s Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa.

The East African region is one of the most food insecure regions of the world, with one in every five hungry people globally located here. Macro-economic shocks together with the COVID-19 pandemic, ongoing conflict, and drought in parts of Kenya, Somalia and Ethiopia have increased acute hunger far above levels previously experienced.

“These shocks do not just have immediate, short-term effects, they exacerbate prevailing food insecurity and undermine livelihoods and development gains that took years to build. We must continue to support vulnerable communities across the region and work with all stakeholders to address the root causes of conflict and hunger,” said Michael Dunford, World Food Programme Regional Director for Eastern Africa.