Some of the causes, especially conflicts, are man-made.

 

Photo credit: SABC

As we respond to the famine and starvation crisis, it is imperative that we fast-track efforts aimed at investing in longer-term solutions, if we are to break the endless cycle of food insecurity.(SABC)

 

The problem isn’t hunger

OPINION: Dr Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré

Famine and starvation are threatening the lives of tens of millions of people in Africa today.

In Ethiopia alone, over 7 million people need emergency food aid. What is troubling is the fact that food aid will run out soon in the country. This is extremely unsettling and begs the question: Will this cycle of hunger ever end?

As we respond to the current crisis, it is imperative that we fast-track efforts aimed at investing in longer-term solutions, if we are to break the endless cycle
of food insecurity.

In 1974 a global conference on food security resolved that “within a decade no child would go hungry.”

Ironically, exactly a decade later, almost one million Ethiopians died in one of the worst famines in recent history. This was not the last one. Famines have been recurring, and they will return, unless public authorities, the donor community, United Nations agencies, regional bodies and national institutions genuinely refocus their efforts on dealing with the underlying causes, some of which I highlight below.

Some of the causes, especially conflicts, are man-made.

Read the full article: SABC

Heavy toll of disrupted farming, higher prices and displaced livelihoods

 

Photo credit: FAO

A homestead in Al Hudaydah, once an important food-producing part of Yemen and now at risk of famine.

Food insecurity strains deepen amid civil conflict and drought

Large agricultural harvests in some regions of the world are buoying global food supply conditions, but protracted fighting and unrest are increasing the ranks of the displaced and hungry elsewhere, according to the new edition of FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.

Some 37 countries, 28 of which are in Africa, require external assistance for food, according to the report.

Civil conflict continues to be a main driver of severe food insecurity, having triggered famine conditions in South Sudan and put populations in Yemen and northern Nigeria at high risk of localized famine. Adverse weather conditions are exacerbating the threat of famine in Somalia. Refugees from civil strife in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Central African Republic are putting additional pressure on local food supplies in host communities, the report notes.

Some 5.5 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure in South Sudan, where maize and sorghum prices are now four times higher than in April 2016. In Somalia, about 3.2 million people are in need of food and agricultural emergency assistance, while in Yemen the figure is as high as 17 million. In northern Nigeria, disruption caused by the conflict has left 7.1 million people facing acute food insecurity in the affected areas, with even more deemed to be in less dire but still “stressed” conditions.

The 37 countries currently in need of external food assistance are Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Southern Africa rebounds, East Africa is parched

While worldwide cereal output is near record levels, production outcomes are mixed across the globe. South America is expected to post strong increases, led by Brazil and Argentina.

Regional production in Southern Africa is expected to jump by almost 45 percent compared to 2016 when crops were affected by El Niño, with record maize harvests forecast in South Africa and Zambia. This should help reducing food insecurity in several countries such as Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

The overall food supply situation in the Sahel region is also satisfactory after two consecutive years of bumper crops, the report notes.

 Read the full article: FAO

Conflicts, drought and food insecurity

 

Photo credit: UN NEWS CENTRE

Community members transport humanitarian supplies delivered in Mayendit town, South Sudan. An inter-agency mobile team was deployed to support the resumption of life-saving services by static partners. Photo: OCHA/Guiomar Pau Sole.

Conflict and drought deepen food insecurity in Africa, Middle East – UN agency

Protracted fighting and unrest are swelling the ranks of displaced and hungry ins some parts of the world, even as large agricultural harvests in some regions are buoying global food supply conditions, according to a new report by the United Nations agriculture agency.

“Civil conflict continues to be a main driver of food insecurity, having triggered famine conditions in South Sudan and put populations in Yemen and northern Nigeria at high risk of localized famine,” said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization on today’s release its Crop Prospects and Food Situation report.

FAO also notes that adverse weather conditions are exacerbating the threat of famine in Somalia. Refugees from civil strife in countries such as Iraq, Syria and Central African Republic are putting additional pressure on local food supplies in host communities.

It also points out that some 5.5 million people are estimated to be severely food insecure in South Sudan, where maize and sorghum prices are now four times higher than in April 2016. In Somalia, about 3.2 million people need food and agricultural emergency assistance, while in Yemen the figure is as high as 17 million.

In northern Nigeria, disruption caused by conflict has left 7.1 million people facing acute food insecurity in the affected areas, with even more deemed to be in less dire but still “stressed” conditions, according to the report.

According to FAO, 37 countries require external assistance for food, namely Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

Southern Africa rebounds, East Africa is parched

While worldwide cereal output is near record levels, production outcomes are mixed across the globe.

According to the report, South America is expected to post strong increases, led by Brazil and Argentina.

Regional production in Southern Africa is expected to jump by almost 45 per cent compared to 2016 when crops were affected by El Niño, with record maize harvests forecast in South Africa and Zambia. This should help to reduce food insecurity in countries, such as Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, Swaziland and Zimbabwe.

After two consecutive years of bumper crops, the report notes that the overall food supply situation in the Sahel region is satisfactory.

Read the full article: UN NEWS CENTRE

Poverty, low water availability, deforestation and land degradation are fuelling conflicts, but Kenya greens drylands.

 

Photo credit: IPS News

A Kenya Forestry Research Institute technician pruning an acacia tree at a drylands research site in Tiva, Kitui County. Credit: Justus Wanzala/IPS

Kenya Greens Drylands to Combat Land Degradation

High levels of poverty, low water availability, deforestation and land degradation are fuelling conflicts among communities in East Africa.

Faced with growing degradation that is swallowing large swathes of land in arid and semiarid areas, Kenya is heavily investing in rehabilitation efforts to stave off the threat of desertification.

Charles Sunkuli, secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Natural Resources, says a programme targeting 5.1 million hectares of degraded and deforested land for restoration by 2030 was launched in September 2016. He added that Kenya is increasing its forest cover from the current seven percent to a minimum of 10 percent.

“We have introduced an equalisation fund to help communities living in dry and degraded lands eke out at a living and participate in rehabilitation initiatives,” said Sunkuli.

He was speaking in Nairobi during the Fifteenth Session of the Committee of Review of the Implementation of the Convention (CRIC 15) of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which concluded last week.

Afforestration, he noted, will mainly be done in the country’s arid and semiarid areas which make up 80 percent of Kenya’s land cover, although other areas of the country to are being targeted too.

To succeed in its ambitious endeavour, Sunkuli said Kenya is implementing a programme to promote drought-tolerant tree species such Melia volkensii (locally known as Mukau) in the country’s vast drylands to increase forest cover.

Indeed, Kenya is heavily investing in research into drought resistant trees to enhance afforestration of dry lands and improve livelihoods. At Tiva in the dry Kitui County, eastern Kenya, the Kenya Forestry Research Institute (KEFRI) has established a research centre to breed tree species ideal for planting in arid and semiarid areas. The centre is supported by the government in partnership with the Japan International Cooperation Agency (JICA).

Read the full article: IPS News

Desertification and conflicts in Nigeria

 

Photo credit: DW

Desertification fuels deadly clashes in Nigeria

Growing desertification and violence in Nigeria is forcing thousands of Muslim herdsmen to move south, leading to clashes with Christian crop farmers. Residents and activists report that hundreds have been killed.

Scarcity of fertile land and violence at the hands of Boko Haram jihadists in the north of Nigeria are driving thousands of people southwards, dividing the country down ethnic and religious lines.

Thousands of people from the roaming Fulani ethnic group are reported to have fled south this year, running up against Christian crop farmers, who accuse the Muslim herdsmen of violence against villagers.

Much of the fighting is understood to stem from conflict over resources such as land and water, which have become increasingly scarce in Africa’s most populous nation. Clashes are reported to have intensified over the last few years.

Desertification is increasingly rendering large swathes of fertile land into desert. A report published in the Journal of Ecology and the Natural Environment says that more than 60 percent of the Nigeria’s land is affected.

The report cites climatic variation and the result of human activities – including deforestation, extensive cultivation and overgrazing – as causes.

Other studies have established a link between climate change and conflict.

Read the full article: DW

$10 million for emergency agricultural support to internally displaced people and host families

 

Photo credit: FAO

A displaced farmer preparing land before planting in Kukarata, northeastern Nigeria.

Nigeria: FAO seeks urgent funding to target 385,000 people with farming support in northeast

Urgent action is needed to provide farming and livelihood support to 385,000 people in parts of Nigeria’s northeast where food insecurity is rampant, FAO said today.

The resumption of agricultural activities in these areas is of utmost priority to ensure that people can produce enough food for themselves. This includes those who have been internally displaced by the conflict as well as communities who have been hosting them.

These populations need urgent assistance to recover their livelihoods, which are mostly based on crop farming, artisanal fisheries and aquaculture and livestock production. For the last three to four years this has not been possible due to the conflict,” said Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.

More than 3 million people are affected by acute food insecurity in Borno, Yobe and Adamawa States.

FAO has launched a full-scale corporate response to the ongoing crisis and urgently requires $10 million to supply seeds, fertilizers and irrigation equipment for the upcoming irrigated dry season. In the meantime, FAO is preparing its response for the main agricultural season for which even more resources are required.

“This year, significant territory previously controlled by Boko Haram has been rendered accessible to humanitarian assistance so we have a critical opportunity to tackle the alarming levels of food insecurity in northeast Nigeria,” said Tim Vaessen, FAO’s Emergency and Response Manager in Nigeria.

“With funds received to-date, FAO has reached over 123,000 people to improve their food security by enabling them to grow their own food during the ongoing rain-fed season. While this assistance is crucial, it reaches just a fraction of those in need of support and now FAO is seeking funds to support irrigated crop production, livestock restocking and animal health treatment, including disease control and supplementary feed, in the newly liberated areas,” he added.

Pressure on rural communities hosting displaced people

Three consecutive planting seasons have been lost due to the fighting in northeastern Nigeria. Moreover, large influxes of people escaping repeated Boko Haram attacks have put extreme pressure on already poor and vulnerable host communities and their fragile agricultural and pastoral livelihoods, exacerbating the already precarious food and nutrition security situation.

Read the full article: FAO

Links between conflict, imperilled rural livelihoods and migration

 

Photo credit: FAO

In Syria farmers and livestock keepers are often left with no other option than to abandon their fields and animals.

FAO Director-General: food security and the migration crisis

Graziano da Silva stresses links between conflict, imperilled rural livelihoods and migration

The millions of people who are being forced to flee from war, poverty and other hardships are a tragic reminder of the urgent need for peaceful solutions based on social justice and improved economic opportunities for all. Key to achieving this is the protection of and investment in rural livelihoods, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said today.

“Rural development and food security are central to the global response to the refugee crisis. War causes hunger and hunger too, kills and forces people from their homes,” he said.

“Whether living in camps or finding themselves on the move, people are in a particularly vulnerable situation. The world needs to give a comprehensive response that offers hope and concrete solutions to refugees, and this response must consider their present and future food security, and the rehabilitation of their rural livelihoods.”

“Supporting agricultural based livelihoods can contribute to both helping people stay on their land when they feel safe to do so and to create the conditions for the return of refugees, migrants and displaced people,” added Graziano da Silva.

“Most of the displaced hope to return to their lands as soon as the conflict is over, but the impacts of conflict on food security often last long after the violence has subsided,” he said.

Agriculture continues to be the backbone of livelihoods for the majority of people in conflict and post-conflict situations.

Read the full article: FAO

Desertification, drought, soils, lack of food and grazing lands, conflicts in Nigeria

 

53% Nigerians affected by desertification –FG

by 

The federal govern­ment has said about 53 per cent of the total population of Nige­rians are grossly affected by desertification even as 40% of the land mass in the north was taken up by deserts.

The Permanent Secre­tary, Ministry of Environ­ment, Mrs. Nana Mede, disclosed this during a dinner held in Abuja with the State of Israel along­side the Ministry of Wa­ter Resources, to fashion out solutions to water and environmental challenges through collaborative ef­forts.

According to her, an effective management of the soil and efficient man­agement of natural and ground resources would assist in overcoming the challenges posed by the environment to improve the agricultural potency of the north.

She said: “We have 53 per cent of Nigerians al­ready being affected by the effects of desertifi­cation. If we are able to manage our soil and our lands very effectively, we will able to provide food and improve the liveli­hood of our people in the northern part of the country.”

Mede went further to attribute the lack of suf­ficient food and grazing lands as reasons behind most of the conflicts wit­nessed in the country.

“A lot of conflicts al­ready exists because these farmers and cat­tle rearers have to find where to get food for their animals so they are mi­grating to the south.”

Read the full article: Nigerian Daily News

Fertile land and sustainable water sources are diminishing at a frightening rate

Photo credit: Excellent

No such thing as a free lunch

“Before we used to get some good rains that enabled us to get enough food but in the recent years it has been gradually decreasing and we are now not able to get enough food, even though we put efforts in farming.”

Joseph Kilonzo, Mumbuka self-help group, southeast Kenya

Migration and conflict over sparse resources are already on the rise, and if current trends continue, hunger and poverty are likely to become more widespread.

Desertification, overgrazing and conflicts

Photo credit: Ecologist

The edge of an experimental sheep grazing exclusion zone (to the right) within Al Talila Reserve, Palmyra, photographed in March 2008 in the midst of an intense drought period. Sheep quasi uncontrolled grazing was allowed to the left of the fence. Grazing of reintroduced native antelopes at low densities had been allowed within the exclusion zone for a period of 10 years. Photo: Gianluca Serra.

Over-grazing and desertification in the Syrian steppe are the root causes of war

by Gianluca Serra

Civil war in Syria is the result of the desertification of the ecologically fragile Syrian steppe, writes Gianluca Serra – a process that began in 1958 when the former Bedouin commons were opened up to unrestricted grazing. That led to a wider ecological, hydrological and agricultural collapse, and then to a ‘rural intifada’ of farmers and nomads no longer able to support themselves.

———

A major role in this unfolding disaster was played by affluent urban investors who threw thousands of livestock into the steppe turning the grazing into a large-scale, totally unsustainable, industrial practice.

A five-year action plan to bolster anti-smuggling capabilities and help victims

Photo credit: IRIN

A group of West African would-be migrants, who failed to complete their journey to Europe, await repatriation outside the International Organisation for Migrants’ reception centre in Niamey, Niger.
© Boureima Balima/IRIN

Dreams that wither and die in the African desert

By Boureima Balima
EXCERPT

Not a lone case

Since the beginning of 2015, more than 5,600 people who attempted to migrate to Europe have been returned to their countries of origin from Niamey, according to Paloma Casaseca, a program assistant here for the IOM.

“This number is double that of last year,” Casaseca told IRIN. “And these are essentially the people who failed in their journey, either because of lack of resources or health issues, or as a result of expulsions by the host country.”

IOM estimates that more than 100,000 West Africans will cross Niger this year on their way to Europe.

But many don’t even reach the coasts of places like Algeria, Libya or Morocco to try their luck on the perilous boat journeys that are the best-known feature of this complex migration phenomenon.

See: Somaliland losing youth do to allure of Europe
Vast expanses of sand make for difficult access routes, particularly aboard old pickup trucks and other dilapidated vehicles. When a car breaks down, passengers often die of dehydration before they can be rescued. Those that are found are sometimes sent back home. Others are forced into hard labour or prostitution by the smugglers.

“In Niger, we have no figures to express the crisis of the Niger desert, that engulfs probably just as many fatalities each year as the Mediterranean,” Casaseca said.

Reform needed

At the IOM reception centre in Niamey, many migrants told IRIN they were not aware of the full danger of what they were undertaking. They had merely heard that there was a road that could take them to Europe.

“Many friends and brothers have successfully traversed the wilderness to go to Europe and so why shouldn’t we follow the same path?” asked Bouaro Idrissa, a 27-year-old from Senegal, who was also about to be sent home from Niamey.

Read the full article: IRIN