The World Report on Food Crises for 2020, published Tuesday by various UN agencies and international donors, reported that about 135 million people in 55 countries affected by conflict and climate problems were in a situation of “severe food insecurity” in 2019.
This number is the highest in four years, when the report to be submitted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the World Food Program to the Security Council began Tuesday.
And it seems that Africa last year paid again the price of “acute food insecurity” that affected 73 million people, more than half of the continent’s population.
Among the countries most affected by this scourge are South Sudan (61 percent), Yemen (53 percent) and Afghanistan (37 percent), in addition to Syria, Haiti, Venezuela, Ethiopia, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Sudan and the northern part of Nigeria.
“Conflicts have always been the main driver of food crises in 2019, but extreme climatic conditions and economic shocks are getting bigger,” the report said, warning that the emerging Corona virus may be a factor exacerbating this situation.
The report’s authors pointed out that it counted an additional 22 million people in countries or regions compared to the previous report, but through a comparison of the fifty countries included in the 2019 and 2020 reports, it turns out that the number of people affected by crises “increased from 112 to 123 million”.
The report also noted that exacerbation of food insecurity is a highly sensitive topic in conflict areas such as the Democratic Republic of the Congo and South Sudan, or in countries that have experienced severe drought or a deteriorating economy such as Haiti and Pakistan Zimbabwe.
On the economic front, the situation can worsen very rapidly in the 55 countries concerned with food crises and included in the report due to the spread of the new Corona virus.
The report warned that those countries covered by these food crises “have very limited and possibly non-existent capacity to face the health and economic repercussions” of this crisis.
In addition to the logistical problems left by this crisis, which threatens the supplies of countries mentioned in the report, the epidemic “can increase the level of food insecurity for other countries,” noting in particular to the oil-exporting countries at a time when oil prices recorded a historic decline this week.
The same remark was made by the NGO Oxfam on Tuesday, saying that in West Africa a Covid-19 epidemic combined with drought and insecurity in the region could cause the number of people at risk of starvation to nearly triple to 50 million in August from 17 million in June.
Among the Economic Community of West African States, there are some of the largest exporters of rice in the world, amid concerns about the fluctuations in the rice market in recent weeks.
The most important economic news for FAO, Abdel Reda Abbasian, confirmed to Agence France Presse that rice, the staple food, has witnessed a “significant rise” in prices recently.
Arno Soleil, a mediator at the Swiss company “SCP”, said that Vietnam, the third global source, “imposed a ban on exportation in practice,” stressing that this ban coincided with the paralysis of Indian port facilities due to the isolation measures.
As a result, the price of Thai rice, the only one left in the market, quickly increased to 570 euros per ton before falling back to 525 euros after a partial reopening of the Vietnamese market last week, which led to a breathing sigh of relief.
“The issue of prices is important, but there are many other issues that need to be taken into consideration,” Abbasiyan said.
“Schools are closed in the West and a lot of people complain, but meals are still provided to children. In poorer countries when schools are closed, this means not having lunch,” he concluded.