Brace yourself for hunger pangs
Tuesday, March 19, 2013
The number of people facing food insecurity in Africa is likely
to rise from March to June mainly due to increasing food insecurity in
Ethiopia, Sudan and South Sudan, food security experts said in the
latest analysis on Saturday.
The study by Famine Early Warning Systems (FEWS
Net) warned that if rains are below normal, deterioration in household
food security could accelerate particularly in Somalia, eastern Kenya,
and eastern and southern Ethiopia.
FEWS NET said an estimated 12.9 million people in
Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda, Burundi,
Tanzania, and Rwanda face ‘Stressed to Crisis’ levels of food
insecurity, representing substantial improvements in household food
security even compared to three months ago.
“However, the number of people facing acute food
insecurity is likely to rise from March to June, primarily due to
increasing food insecurity in eastern and southern Ethiopia, in the
conflict- affected Sudan-South Sudan border areas and within South
Sudan,” it said.
According to FEWS Net, the reduction from 14.9
million to 12.9 million people facing acute food insecurity — Stressed
to Crisis levels — from about three months ago is indicative of
substantial improvements in food security at the end of 2012, primarily
due to average to above average agricultural production and favourable
“Following a succession of average to above
average crop harvests, a reduction in food prices, and a marked
improvement in livestock productivity and prices, improvements were most
notable in Sudan, South Sudan, Somalia, Djibouti, and Kenya,” the study
The analysis came as the UN Food and Agriculture
Organisation (FAO) said it will soon test a new, faster and more precise
way of measuring hunger and food insecurity in four pilot countries in
Africa. The new approach relies on gathering information on the extent
and severity of hunger from food-insecure people, through a
carefully-designed annual survey conducted in collaboration with polling
Known as the Voices of the Hungry project, the new
approach will be tested beginning this month on a pilot basis in
Angola, Ethiopia, Malawi and Niger — countries which have agreed to move
towards the complete eradication of hunger.
The plan is to then extend the survey to more than
160,000 respondents in up to 150 countries covered by the Gallup World
Poll and to publish updated results on each country every year.
According to FEWS Net, performance of rains
between October to December of 2012 was near average in most parts of
the region except for parts of the southern agropastoral areas in Gedo
and lower and middle Juba and northeastern Somalia, parts of Somali
region in Ethiopia, the northeastern parts of Kenya, eastern parts of
Rwanda, and Kagera and Mara regions in Tanzania.
The study said significant improvements in
household food security have occurred in most parts of Kenya. “Most
pastoral and marginal agricultural areas are anticipated to remain at
stressed levels through June, but they could worsen in the event that
the April to June long rains are below average, which is a strong
possibility,” it said.
The study said substantial improvements in food
security in Somalia have resulted in the reduction of the population
facing acute food insecurity to 1.05 million people in March down from
2. 1 million in December 2012.
However, FEWS Net said Crisis levels of acute food
insecurity are anticipated to persist through June in northwestern,
coastal pastoral areas that have had poor rains since 2010.
Food prices in South Sudan are projected to rise
significantly during the April to June lean season, since household food
stocks were exhausted in February, particularly in the border areas.
“Informal trade is increasingly restricted.
The Government of Sudan (GoS) stopped 70 trucks of food from Sudan going to South Sudan in February,” FEWS Net said.