Global Hunger Index 2015: Hunger and armed conflict
by Welthungerhilfe, IFPRI, Concern Worldwide
In 2014, around 42,500 people every day left their home countries as they were no longer safe there. The majority of them fled from wars in Syria, Afghanistan and Somalia. Countries at war or where a conflict has recently ended are often the worst-scoring countries in the Global Hunger Index (GHI) with regard to their hunger levels.
Access to education is difficult in conflict countries and the spread of stunting and child mortality is significantly higher than in comparable stable countries.
As such, hunger levels in the Central African Republic, Chad and Zambia are the highest. In the first two countries, people have been living with great instability and armed conflicts for years. Even though it’s not the single cause of war: conflict and hunger are closely connected.
In 52 of 117 countries, which are listed in the Global Hunger Index, the hunger situation is ''serious'' or ''alarming''.
However, data is missing from, among others, Burundi, Congo, Eritrea, Somalia, South Sudan and Sudan, which in previous years have shown high levels of hunger. In addition, many of these countries are affected by armed conflicts.
In Africa south of the Sahara and in South Asia, the hunger situation is also most critical, even if there have been overall successes in the fight against hunger.
One in every four children in the world is stunted due to chronic undernutrition. 9 percent of children, so almost one in 10, is wasted from acute undernutrition.
Almost half of all deaths of children under five years of age are caused by malnutrition.
17 countries, including Azerbaijan, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Brazil, Croatia, Kyrgyz Republic, Latvia, Mongolia, Peru, Ukraine and Venezuela, have reduced their scores by 50 percent or more.
In absolute terms, Rwanda, Angola and Ethiopia saw the biggest improvements in scores between the GHI 2000 and the GHI 2015, but their hunger levels remain high.
The joint report from Welthungerhilfe, the International Food Policy Research Institute (IFPRI) and the Irish non-governmental organisation Concern Worldwide shows the development of the hunger situation at a global, regional and national level and examines the reasons for positive and negative developments.
In 2015, the indicators for measuring the hunger situation were improved. Instead of using the indicator for child underweight, the proportion of those suffering from stunting and those suffering from wasting are taken into account. The first is a sign of chronic undernutrition. The second is a sign of acute under-nutrition.
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International action required to avert Sahel food and nutrition crisis
by UN News, Red Cross, WFP & agencies
Crisis in Africa"s Sahel Region, by Valerie Amos.
United Nations Emergency Relief Coordinator’s key messages on the Sahel Crisis.
The severe food and nutrition crisis affecting nine countries in the Sahel region of West Africa is worsening and needs are rising sharply. More than 18 million people in nine countries are facing food insecurity. A million children under 5 are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition.
Successive droughts, combined with conflict and displacement, have pushed people into crisis. In Niger, the number of people affected by food insecurity more than doubled between February and April.
Insecurity and conflict are exacerbating the crisis and making access more difficult, particularly in northern Mali.. We are now facing new logistical challenges, including the risk of epidemics brought on by seasonal rains and the possibility of an infestation of desert locusts in the western Sahel.
So far, we have received 42 per cent of the $1.6 billion we need to respond to the crisis.
Governments and humanitarian agencies have been working to support people in need since the alarm was raised last year, with nutrition programmes, direct food distributions and cash for-work and food-for-work projects. These are having an impact, but without continued support, the progress made could be lost very quickly.
In the medium- and long-term, we are investing in building resilience into families and communities by improving access to food and water and supporting income-generating projects. We are committed to ending the cycle of increasing need and dependency by working to save both lives and livelihoods. Without this, people risk falling back into chronic poverty and malnutrition as soon as the crisis is lifted.
UN and partners seek $1.6 billion for crisis-hit Sahel region in West Africa.
The United Nations and its partners today appealed for $1.6 billion to provide vital humanitarian aid to people in the crisis-stricken Sahel region of West Africa, revising their previous requests for funding in light of the dramatic deterioration of the situation.
The appeal will help provide food, nutrition, health services, sanitation and other urgent assistance to 18.7 million people in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Chad, Niger, Cameroon, Gambia, Nigeria and Senegal.
“It is crucial that momentum be maintained in the months to come, not only to address critical needs but also to prepare for rebuilding lives and livelihoods of people affected by the crisis,” the Regional Humanitarian Coordinator for the Sahel, David Gressly, said at the appeal launch in Geneva.
According to the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), the situation in the Sahel region has deteriorated dramatically through 2012 owing to drought and sporadic rains, poor harvest, rising food prices, displacement and insecurity.
Across the region, more than one million children under five are at risk of dying from severe acute malnutrition and require immediate relief. An additional three million children are at risk of moderate acute malnutrition.
Humanitarian agencies have supported governments in the region to respond to the crisis by deploying staff and scaling up programmes. So far, donors have provided 43 per cent of the funding required – however, the concern remains that if assistance is not sustained, the transition from acute emergency to recovery may fail.
Urgent funds needed to assist millions across Africa"s Sahel region. (UN News Service)
Speaking from Niger, a top United Nations official has appealed to the international community to provide the resources needed to help millions in crisis in the Sahel region of West Africa, warning that the situation is critical and there is no time to lose.
“This is one that the international community cannot and must not ignore,” said the Executive Director of the World Food Programme (WFP), Ertharin Cousin, in an interview from Niger"s capital, Niamey.
Accompanied by the UN High Commissioner for Refugees António Guterres, Ms. Cousin is currently in Niger to raise awareness of the crisis and mobilize support for emergency assistance to the people affected in the country and in neighbouring Mali.
There are currently 15 million people facing food insecurity in the Sahel, which stretches from the Atlantic Ocean to the Red Sea, and includes countries such as Niger and Mali. She stressed that the situation is critical following the recent drought which has brought hunger for the third time in recent years.
“Niger is again facing a crisis of a failed harvest because last season the rains did not come. A failed harvest is always a food security crisis,” Ms. Cousin said. “Because the rains failed last season, what you"re seeing is that the hungry poor, the most vulnerable populations, are now at the point where they have depleted their assets. And as a result, they have no food.”
In Niger, WFP has launched an emergency operation to support 3.3 million people, with a special focus on children under two. Some 35 per cent of people being assisted will receive cash. Over 423,000 thousand people have already received support through food-for-assets and cash-for-work programmes.
WFP estimates it needs some $450 million to help people across the region. “We have about three to four weeks for the international community to invest in WFP and other UN partner organizations working in the Sahel,” the food agency chief said.
Last month, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on the global community to act quickly to address what he described as a “cascading crisis” sweeping the Sahel.
“The statistics are sobering: 15 million people are directly affected. More than 200,000 children died of malnutrition last year – and another one million are threatened right now,” he had said.
Sahel Crisis: Country By Country. (WFP)
Hunger is on the rise across the Sahel region of West Africa, a massive swathe of territory that stretches across eight countries from Chad in the east to Senegal in the west. Access a rundown of the situation in each country and a look at how we"re responding to help the people who live there.
The United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) is warning that more than a million children below the age of five in the Sahel are facing a disaster amid the ongoing food crisis in the drought-prone region of Africa.
They are among the some 15 million people estimated to be at risk of food insecurity in countries in the Sahel, including 5.4 million people in Niger, three million in Mali, 1.7 million in Burkina Faso and 3.6 million in Chad, as well as hundreds of thousands in Senegal, the Gambia, and Mauritania, according to UN figures.
UNICEF stated that the dry, ‘lean’ season in the affected countries is imminent, and will be marked by rising numbers of children in feeding centres who will need life-saving treatment. “A multiple disaster is stalking children in the Sahel,” said the agency’s Regional Director, David Gressly. “Even in a best case scenario we are expecting more than a million children suffering from severe and acute malnutrition to enter feeding centres over the next six months.
“More extreme conditions could see the number rise to around 1.5 million, and funding is still not coming at the rate we need to prepare properly,” he added.
The agency noted that it has so far received $24 million against an emergency appeal of $119 million for 2012.
UN agencies and their partners have been responding to the food crisis in the Sahel, which is the result of poor rainfall and failed harvests.
“Without a good emergency response and a sustained effort to reduce risk in the medium to long term, an entire generation faces a future of dependency, poverty and threatened survival.”
Earlier this month, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) called for $69.8 million in additional funding to prevent a full-blown food and nutrition crisis from unfolding in the Sahel.
Up to 14 million at risk in African drought.
The International Federation of the Red Cross says the hunger crisis in the arid, western shoulder of Africa could even spread to 23 million people without more immediate aid.
The federation - an umbrella group for national Red Cross and Red Crescent societies around the world - estimates 14 million people now do not have enough food in the Sahel region due to failed rains, pest attacks and local flooding.
IFRC"s regional representative for Sahel, Momodou Lamin Fye, told reporters on Tuesday in Geneva that Chad and Mauritania each harvested only half of what was needed.
UN spokeswoman Corinne Momal-Vanian says international agencies since December have collected just $US135 million ($A126.78 million) of the more than $US720 million ($A676.18 million) in aid needed for 2012 for the region that also includes Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso and Senegal.
The growing food crisis in Niger, West Africa, by Thierno Diallo. (Mercycorps)
Years of unpredictable rains, intense poverty and a poor harvest in 2011 have left 5.5 million people (over a third of the country’s population) facing significant food shortages this year. A deeply worrying 1.3 million of that number are at serious risk from hunger and need immediate humanitarian assistance.
Mercy Corps teams in Ouallam and Filingué — two areas in southwest Niger that are among the hardest hit by drought and the growing food crisis — say the situation is getting more serious by the day. Late rains and damage from insects at the end of 2011 left between 70 and 100 per cent of farmers with no crops to harvest at all. Families struggle to make food last from one October harvest to the next even during normal years, but with no stored crops and little grazing for weakened livestock, the number of people with access to enough food is plummeting rapidly.
Soaring food prices
Food prices are soaring as a result. Between October and December 2011 the cost of grain staples like millet and sorghum doubled. Many families in the region have still not recovered from droughts and shortages in 2009, and can’t afford the high prices. Those with any assets are selling what they have left to buy food, and others are taking on debts. Many people are leaving their communities altogether, in search of work, food and water. Schools are growing emptier by the day as children leave with their parents or on their own to find work for food.
Dramatic increase in malnutrition
Members of our team are encountering more and more families who are forced to skip meals and significantly reduce the amount of food in each meal. Women in particular are often missing meals for an entire day or longer.
Consequently, we are seeing a dramatic increase in malnutrition. The number of children under five who are acutely malnourished has already reached levels the World Health Organisation classes as serious in many areas.
In Kanya village in Filingué last week, a community member told our team: “We have nothing left to eat in this village. Some households are only getting one meal within 36 or 48 hours; now we eat flowers and leaves of the ‘Garbey’ tree. We pound the flower, mix it with lot of water, drink some and keep some so that any time a child cries, we give him or her some mixture to drink and they calm down.
"There is nothing we can do and sometimes they get diarrhea. We have nothing left, so we need help. This is the worst crisis we have seen in our village for so many years. In 2009 we had at least few of us that could harvest. This year no one could get anything out of the farms. We lost everything. We need help.”
With the next harvest not expected before October 2012, the situation is poised to deteriorate even further without significant humanitarian intervention.
The UN and Government of Niger have both declared this situation a serious crisis. Mercy Corps teams have been working in some of the most at-risk areas for some time, trying to help communities to deal with the effects of poor rains and putting in place monitoring systems for malnutrition and food levels so as the crisis builds, we can help before they reach famine levels on the kind of scale seen in the Horn of Africa.
Its important that at the same time as helping the people of Niger survive this current crisis, we continue to invest in ways to stop the cycle of hunger they face recurring in years to come.
* For more news on the Sahel food and nutrition crisis see Reliefweb page via link below.
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