Preventing famine in northeastern Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen urgently requires intensified humanitarian support and further funding. That was the message of an event hosted by the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization and World Food Programme on the sidelines of FAO’s Conference.
“The situation remains extremely dire,” said FAO’s Deputy Director-General Daniel Gustafson. “While we acknowledge progress, we cannot underestimate just how much remains to be done if we are to avert another famine declaration in 2017.” WFP Deputy Executive Director Amir Abdulla warned against complacency: “We must not let the success to date be the failure of tomorrow,” he said.
In north-eastern Nigeria, conflict and displacement has led to 5.5 million people being severely food insecure. The current lean season – when households run out of food before the next harvest – is making the situation worse. In Somalia, 3.2 million people are severely food insecure, primarily because of drought, and hunger has worsened since the start of the year. In South Sudan, half the population is severely food insecure largely due to conflict, and while famine is being contained the number of people at risk of famine has increased since February.
In Yemen, where conflict has disrupted markets and agriculture, 17 million people are affected by severe hunger.
Saving livelihoods saves lives
Livelihoods are people’s best defence against famine and severe food insecurity. By assisting rural people to maintain their livelihoods, they will be able to defend themselves against the worst ravages of drought and recovery will be both faster and cheaper.
Across the four countries, FAO has reached over 8.4 million people with emergency agricultural and other livelihood support so far this year, which is just over half the year’s target. WFP has reached 11 million people with emergency food and other life-saving support and aims to ramp up to 14 million. FAO’s work across the four countries is 48 percent funded, while WFP has around one third of the funds it needs. For both organizations, the Yemen response is the least-funded of the four crises despite having the largest number of people in need.