Hunger intensifies in areas suffering from drought, flooding and conflict – UN report

Drying corn on the hood of the family truck in Manyandzeni Village, Swaziland. Photo: FAO/Giulio Napolitano

9 March 2016 – Thirty-four countries, including 27 in Africa, are currently in need of external assistance for food due to drought, flooding and civil conflicts, according to a new United Nations report released today.

The figure has grown from 33 last December, after the addition of Swaziland, says the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) in its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.

The report, produced by FAO’s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS), points out that drought associated with El Niño has “sharply reduced” 2016 crop production prospects in Southern Africa, while expectations for the harvest in Morocco and Algeria have been lowered due to dry conditions.

Also in areas of Central America and the Caribbean, ongoing dry conditions linked to El Niño may affect sowings of the main season crops for the third consecutive year.

Moreover, FAO stresses that persistent conflicts in Iraq, Syria, Yemen, Somalia, and the Central African Republic have taken a heavy toll on the agricultural sector, further worsening the humanitarian crisis in those countries. In most cases, the impact of conflict extends into neighbouring countries such as Cameroon and the Democratic Republic of Congo that are hosting refugee populations.

In several countries already in need of external assistance for food, the report finds that conditions generally worsened in the past three months, mainly in the Southern Africa sub-region, where food prices have reached record highs.

It also warns that last year’s reduced production would negatively impact the food security situation in the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, where “most households were already estimated to have borderline or poor food consumption.”

Elsewhere, the outlook for the 2016 crops already in the ground, mostly winter grains in the northern hemisphere, is generally favourable. Early forecasts indicate large 2016 wheat crops in most countries of Asia.

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