DAKAR – The number of women, men and children affected by a food and nutrition crisis in West and Central Africa is expected to reach a new record high in June 2022 – quadrupling in just three years from 10.7 million in 2019 to 41 million in 2022 – unless appropriate measures are urgently taken, reveals the Cadre Harmonisé food security analysis released in March 2022.

Following the high-level conference in Paris on food security and nutrition situation in West Africa, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) are calling for longer-term political and financial commitments to address the worst food security and nutrition crisis to strike the region in 10 years.

“The situation is spiraling out of control. Needs are escalating much faster than we are currently able to respond – this in an immensely complex and volatile operational environment,” said Chris Nikoi, the U.N. World Food Programme’s regional director for West Africa.

“Both governments and partners need a step-change in tackling the underlying drivers of hunger and malnutrition. Bold and rigorous political actions are needed now, including lifting barriers to the regional trade and ensuring the most acute needs are met during a lean season that is projected to be extremely challenging in the region,” Nikoi added.

There is a high risk that the food and nutrition crisis will be further aggravated due to persistent insecurity that continues to trigger massive population displacement, the impact of the climate crisis, disrupted food systems, limited food production, barriers to regional trade and the socioeconomic fallout from the pandemic which has devastated national economies. Furthermore, the ongoing conflict in Ukraine is violently disrupting the global trade of food, fertilizers and oil products, with the already high prices of agricultural products reaching record highs not seen in the region since 2011.

While the increase in staple food prices has been steady in all countries in the region, a staggering 40% jump from the five-year average has been witnessed in Liberia, Sierra Leone, Nigeria, Burkina Faso, Togo, Niger, Mali and Mauritania – pushing basic meals out of reach for millions of women, men and children.

“This unprecedented food crisis the region is facing offers an opportunity for us to address the root causes of food insecurity in the sub-region by developing food and agricultural systems that are less dependent on external shocks, and a more productive and efficient local agriculture with a particular emphasis on the consumption of local food products” said Dr Gouantoueu Robert Guei, Sub-Regional Coordinator for West Africa and FAO representative in Senegal.

The nutritional situation also remains a grave concern in the region, particularly in the Sahelian countries such as Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger and Chad where an estimated 6 million children under the age of five are likely to suffer from acute malnutrition in 2022. Nutritional analyses conducted across the Sahel and in Nigeria point to a crisis or emergency situation in several locations in Chad, Burkina Faso, Mali and Nigeria.

“Africa has the largest untapped potential of arable land, yet most of these countries import food. Governments need to support long-term agriculture plans for the next generation, including investments in developing agriculture, livestock and fisheries to achieve food security,” said Benoit Thierry, IFAD regional representative in West Africa.

The March 2022 Cadre Harmonisé projections suggest that in coastal countries, the number of food insecure people has doubled since 2020, rising from 3 million people in the June-August 2020 period to over 6 million in June-August 2022. This includes nearly 110,000 people facing Emergency (Phase 4) levels of food insecurity. The coastal region is likely to experience further increases in food prices and disruptions in the supply of agricultural products (especially fertilizers), due to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine.

“Acute food insecurity is no longer restricted to the Sahel; it is expanding into Costal countries. We need to respond in a way that is sustainable, at the right scale, and that tackles the multifaceted socio-political and socio-economic elements of the crises the region faces. This will only be achieved through enhanced collaboration, coordination mechanisms at national and regional levels, and leadership at all levels, including from governments, donors, and UN agencies,” Nikoi added.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA, @wfp_media, @WFP_WAfrica and @WFP_FR

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) is the specialized agency of the United Nations that leads international efforts to eliminate hunger. Its goal is to achieve food security for all and to ensure regular and adequate access to good quality food for all, enabling people to lead healthy and active lives. With over 194 member countries, FAO works in more than 130 countries around the world.

FAO’s primary language accounts on Twitter are @FAO, @FAOArabic, @FAOenEspanol and @FAOenFrancais 

ROME/COTONOU – The number of people on the brink of starvation across the Sahel has increased almost tenfold over the past three years and displacement by almost 400% as the region stares down a horrendous food crisis, the Executive Director of United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) David Beasley, warned yesterday.

The region that runs south of the Sahara Desert is currently experiencing some of its driest conditions in many years. In just three years, the number of people marching toward starvation has skyrocketed from 3.6 million to 10.5 million in five countries – Burkina Faso, Chad, Mali, Mauritania and Niger. The current crisis is expected to outpace previous years due to compounding factors including insecurity, an increase in poverty due to COVID-19 and dramatic increases in the cost of staple food.

“An absolute crisis is unfolding before our eyes in the Sahel region,” Beasley said from Benin, having just visited the U.N. World Food Programme operations in Niger and Chad. “I’ve been talking with families who have been through more than you can possibly imagine. They have been chased from their homes by extremist groups, starved by drought and plunged into despair by COVID’s economic ripple effects. We’re running out of money, and these people are running out of hope.”

While needs are sky high, resourcing to support the vulnerable is at rock bottom, forcing the U.N. World Food Programme into the difficult position of having to take from the hungry to feed the starving.  In Niger, for example, a shortage of funding means that the U.N. World Food Programme is cutting food rations by half.

The U.N. World Food Programme requires $470 million for the next six months to continue operations in the Sahel where, despite a challenging security context, it has worked with humanitarian partners to maintain lifesaving support reaching 9.3 million people in the five countries in 2021.

The U.N. World Food Programme has also been implementing resilience-building programs to help families thrive. In the last three years, the U.N. World Food Programme and communities have turned 270,000 acres of barren fields in the Sahel region of five countries into productive agricultural and pastoral land, changing the lives of over 2.5 million people. Communities that have benefited from the resilience building activities are faring relatively better against this unprecedented food crisis as they have been empowered to grow sufficient food to feed themselves, diversify their productions and income.

Meanwhile in Benin, where the threat of conflict spilling across from neighboring Burkina Faso and Niger into areas in the north is a growing concern, the government-funded school feeding program, jointly implemented with the U.N. World Food Programme, provides a nutritious meal to 700,000 children and has been vital in creating jobs and strengthening the local economy.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

WASHINGTON, DC (December 15, 2020) – Today, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation made a generous $500,000 one-year grant to World Food Program USA in support of the United Nations World Food Programme’s lifesaving food assistance operations in Burkina Faso and Burundi. As 270 million people march toward starvation due to the socioeconomic fallout of the pandemic, conflict-ridden Burkina Faso is one of four nations teetering on the brink of famine. The Hilton Foundation’s contribution is critical in addressing urgent hunger in these nations.

“The World Food Programme knows that conflict and economic insecurity are the main drivers of hunger, and addressing hunger builds the foundation for stability and peace. We are deeply grateful to the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation for their support and commitment to feeding those who are most in need and most at risk for starvation,” said Barron Segar, President and CEO, World Food Program USA. “With governments now facing tighter budgets because of the global pandemic, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is modeling the critical role that our country’s thriving private sector can play in saving lives.”

Of the nearly 700 million chronically hungry people in the world, 60 percent live in countries affected by conflict. In fact, about two-thirds of the U.N. World Food Programme’s life-saving food assistance goes to people affected by conflict-induced food crises. Since 2018, Burkina Faso, a landlocked country of about 20 million in West Africa, has faced increasing forced displacement and food insecurity due to conflict caused by non-state armed groups. The U.N. World Food Programme has been scaling up its operations in Burkina Faso to provide vital assistance to 1.2 million of the most vulnerable during the peak lean season. Due to funding shortfalls amid the growing need, it has been forced to cut rations there.

“At a time when so many communities around the world are feeling the combined effects of conflict, food insecurity and COVID-19, the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation is committed to supporting those that don’t reach the headlines,” said Marc Holley, vice president of strategy and programs at the Hilton Foundation. “Despite these challenging times, the humanitarian workers at the U.N. World Food Programme continue to work tirelessly to ensure that the people of Burkina Faso and Burundi have access to food and lifesaving support.”

The U.N. World Food Programme’s work in Burkina Faso and Burundi includes emergency food assistance, school feeding, malnutrition treatment and prevention, resilience building, government capacity strengthening, and support for smallholder farmers. Two million people in Burkina Faso are struggling to feed themselves, and of those, over one million are internally displaced after fleeing violence. Agriculture is the main livelihood for more than 80 percent of the country, and most of those displaced are subsistence farmers and herders who have been forced to abandon their farms, homes, and livelihoods. Burundi, a country of 11 million in East Africa, is one of the poorest countries in the world where more than 65 percent of people live in poverty and 50 percent of the population is chronically food insecure. Burundi’s prevalence of chronic malnutrition is the highest in the world, with 56 percent of children experiencing severe hunger. The U.N. World Food Programme provides lifesaving food assistance, helps strengthen the country’s own social protection system and capacity to cope and recover from crises, supports smallholder farmers, and implements malnutrition prevention initiatives through food fortification and climate adaptation.

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About World Food Program USA | World Food Program USA is the recognized leader in America’s pursuit to end global hunger. We work with U.S. policymakers, corporations, foundations and individuals to generate financial and in-kind resources for the United Nations World Food Programme, 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, to feed families in need around the world and to develop policies necessary to alleviate global hunger. To learn more about World Food Program USA’s mission, please visit us at www.wfpusa.org.

About the Conrad N. Hilton Foundation | The Conrad N. Hilton Foundation was created in 1944 by international business pioneer Conrad N. Hilton, who founded Hilton Hotels and left his fortune to help individuals throughout the world living in poverty and experiencing disadvantage. The Foundation invests in several program areas, including providing access to safe water, supporting transition age foster youth, ending chronic homelessness, hospitality workforce development, disaster relief and recovery, helping young children affected by HIV and AIDS, and supporting the work of Catholic sisters. In addition, following selection by an independent international jury, the Foundation annually awards the $2.5 million Conrad N. Hilton Humanitarian Prize to a nonprofit organization doing extraordinary work to reduce human suffering. From its inception, the Foundation has awarded more than $1.8 billion in grants, distributing $110 million in the U.S. and around the world in 2019. Foundation assets are approximately $6.6 billion. For more information, please visit www.hiltonfoundation.org.

Media Contacts:

  • Toula Athas, World Food Program USA, tathas@wfpusa.org, 202-627-3940
  • Julia Friedman, Conrad N. Hilton Foundation, julia@hiltonfoundation.org, 818-851-3754

Rome – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is honored to accept the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize on December 10 at 1 p.m. (CET), in a ceremony that recognizes our role in fighting hunger and fostering peace in conflict-affected areas.

U.N. World Food Programme Executive Director David Beasley will receive the award on behalf of the agency and its 20,000 staff in a virtual ceremony that can be viewed worldwide here on the Nobel site.

World Food Program USA is hosting a Facebook Live event – The People’s Prize – at 7am ET here – a celebration of the remarkable history, people and partners who are behind the U.N. World Food Programme winning the Nobel Peace Prize, and reactions from U.N. World Food Programme staff around the world.

The Nobel recognition comes as famine again threatens millions of people, especially in four conflict-affected countries—Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria (northeast) and Burkina Faso, amid an alarming convergence of conflict, hunger and the COVID-19 pandemic.

MEDIA RESOURCES:

  • For information on the U.N. World Food Programme work as a first step to peace see here.
  • For photos, see here for footage of U.N. World Food Programme operations, including hunger hotspots, see here.
  • Broadcast quality footage and photos of the Nobel handover will be available afterwards. Direct your request to jonathan.dumont@wfp.org.
  • For interviews with country directors, staff and spokespeople, check here.

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The United Nations World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

For more information please contact:

  • Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mob. + 1 929 289 9867, shaza. moghraby@wfp.org
  • Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mob.  +1 202 770 5993, steve.taravella@wfp.org

ROME – The world has been put on a heightened famine alert with a new report by two United Nations agencies that contains a stark warning; four countries contain areas that could soon slip into famine if conditions there undergo “any further deterioration over the coming months.” These are Burkina Faso in West Africa’s Sahel region, northeastern Nigeria, South Sudan and Yemen. The Early Warning Analysis of Acute Food Insecurity Hotspots – issued today by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN (FAO) and the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) – describes a toxic combination of conflict, economic decline, climate extremes and the COVID-19 pandemic that is driving people further into the emergency phase of food insecurity.

Parts of the population in the four hotspots of highest concern are already experiencing a critical hunger situation, with the report warning that escalations in conflict as well as a further reduction in humanitarian access could lead to a risk of famine.

But these four countries are far from being the only red flag on a world map that shows that acute food insecurity levels are reaching new highs globally, driven by a combination of factors, the report notes. Another 16 countries are at high risk of rising levels of acute hunger.

The aim of the Hotspots report is to inform urgent action that can be taken now to avoid a major emergency – or series of emergencies – in three to six months from today. How the situation evolves in the highest risk countries will depend on conflict dynamics, food prices, and the myriad impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic on their food systems, rainfall and harvest outcomes, humanitarian access, and the readiness of donors to continue funding humanitarian operations.

“This report is a clear call to urgent action,” said Dominique Burgeon, FAO’s Director of Emergencies and Resilience. “We are deeply concerned about the combined impact of several crises which are eroding people’s ability to produce and access food, leaving them more and more at risk of the most extreme hunger. We need access to these populations to ensure they have food and the means to produce food and improve their livelihoods to prevent a worst-case scenario.”

“We are at a catastrophic turning point. Once again, we face the risk of famine in four different parts of the world at the same time. When we declare a famine it means many lives have already been lost. If we wait to find that out for sure, people are already dead,” said Margot van der Velden, U.N. World Food Program Director of Emergencies.

“In 2011, Somalia suffered a famine that killed 260,000 people. The famine was declared in July, but most people had already died by May. We cannot let this happen again. We have a stark choice; urgent action today, or unconscionable loss of life tomorrow,” she warned.

Negative Trends Across the Board

All told, the joint report points to a total of 20 countries and contexts that are at “further risk of deterioration of acute food insecurity,” with key drivers of hunger including:

  • Expansion and intensification of violence
  • Economic crises exacerbated by COVID-19’s socioeconomic impact
  • Weather extremes
  • Transboundary threats like the Desert Locust
  • A lack of humanitarian access

It notes that in the Democratic Republic of the Congo there are 22 million people now estimated to be acutely food insecure – the highest number ever registered for a single country. Burkina Faso has registered the biggest increase with the numbers of desperately hungry people almost tripling compared to 2019, driven by increasing conflict, displacement and COVID-related impacts on employment and food access.

The situation is also dire in Yemen, where the existing food insecurity combined with conflict and a deepening economic crisis could lead to a further deterioration of an already critical food security situation.

Catastrophe/famine is the most severe of five phases used by the Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) system to chart escalating degrees of food insecurity. When this extreme phase is declared, it means that people have already started dying from starvation.

The Hotspots report is saying that, unless urgent action is now taken, the world could experience its first outbreak of famine since it was last declared in 2017 in parts of South Sudan.

This new report was developed under the Global Network Against Food Crises (GNAFC) – an alliance of humanitarian and development actors launched in 2016 by the European Union, FAO and the U.N. World Food Programme to tackle the root causes of food crises through shared analysis and knowledge, strengthened coordination in evidence-based responses, and collective efforts across the humanitarian, development and peace nexus.

Photos available here

Broadcast quality footage available here.

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The U.N. World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA and @wfp_media

For more information, please contact:

  • Shaza Moghraby, WFP/New York, Mob. + 1 929 289 9867, shaza.moghraby@wfp.org
  • Steve Taravella, WFP/ Washington, Mob.  +1 202 770 5993, steve.taravella@wfp.org

DAKAR/ROME – The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) is today warning that unless humanitarian access is urgently granted to organizations like the U.N. World Food Programme, catastrophic levels of hunger could hit hard in parts of Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. The stark warning comes ahead of the High-Level Ministerial Conference on the Central Sahel in Copenhagen on 20 October 2020.

Violence and insecurity have pushed 7.4 million people in the Central Sahel region of West Africa into acute hunger. The number of internally displaced people has risen from 70,000 two years ago to nearly 1.6 million today, including over 288,000 in Mali, more than 265,000 in Niger and over one million in Burkina Faso, which is now home to the world’s fastest growing displacement crisis.

“When we can’t get to vulnerable communities, we’re seeing tragic spikes in food insecurity and thousands of people pushed into further destitution in the Sahel,” said Chris Nikoi, U.N. World Food Programme Regional Director for West Africa.

“There are over ten thousand people who are currently one step short of famine in parts of northern Burkina Faso made inaccessible by dreadful violence and conflict. The world cannot wait to take action until children, women and men have died,” says Chris.

The ability of humanitarian organizations to deliver assistance to those most in need has been jeopardized by worsening conflict and insecurity. Meanwhile, aid workers are also increasingly targeted by non-state armed groups in Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger. This means that needy communities are unable to access life-saving humanitarian assistance on which they so desperately depend in times of crisis.

The U.N. World Food Programme – the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate – is urging participants at the conference to find ways for organizations to engage with communities and all actors on the ground, opening up safe passageways for humanitarian assistance to reach those in need. The conference is hosted by Denmark, Germany, the European Union and the United Nations.

The U.N. World Food Programme has continued to ramp up lifesaving assistance in response to the deepening crisis and growing needs – assisting over 3.4 million people in August alone.

The U.N. World Food Programme has scaled up to meet the growing needs in Burkina, but the financial outlook is worrying. The U.N. World Food Programme was already forced to reduce rations from July 2020 and risks a break for emergency assistance to displaced people – who have fled their homes farms and jobs and have no other options – by November.  To maintain operations in the three Central Sahel countries, the U.N. World Food Programme needs $135.7 million over the next six months.

At the same time, the U.N. World Food Programme is working to strengthen resilience-building support for at-risk communities. U.N. World Food Programme interventions include the rehabilitation of community assets, improving degraded lands, school feeding and community-based nutrition activities for the prevention and treatment of malnutrition. Since 2018, more than one million people have benefitted from U.N. World Food Programme integrated resilience activities in Niger, Mali and Burkina Faso.

Broadcast quality video available:

Shotlist: https://spaces.hightail.com/receive/cNfMpNV7Mq

Streaming: https://content.jwplatform.com/videos/OuJBjvWn-wOVdt6af.mp4

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The U.N. World Food Programme is the 2020 Nobel Peace Prize Laureate.  We are the world’s largest humanitarian organization, saving lives in emergencies and using food assistance to build a pathway to peace, stability and prosperity for people recovering from conflict, disasters and the impact of climate change.

Follow us on Twitter @WFPUSA @wfp_media @wfp_WAfrica

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