Sunday March 5, 2017
Women stand beside the carcass of a cow that died of lack of pasture in Saka, Garissa County. /THOMSON REUTERS FOUNDATION
The number of people facing severe hunger worldwide has surpassed 100 million and will grow if humanitarian aid is not paired with more support for farmers, a senior United Nations official said.
Dominique Burgeon, director of the emergency division at the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said latest studies showed 102 million people faced acute malnutrition - meaning they were on the brink of starvation - in 2016, up almost 30 percent from 80 million in 2015.
The hike was mainly driven by deepening crises in Yemen, South Sudan, Nigeria and Somalia, where conflict and drought have crippled food production, he said.
"Humanitarian assistance has kept many people alive so far but their food security situation has continued to deteriorate," Burgeon told the Thomson Reuters Foundation in an interview.
More investment is needed to help people feed themselves by farming crops and livestock, he added.
"We come with airplanes, we provide food assistance and we manage to keep them alive but we do not invest enough in the livelihood of these people," he said.
"We avoid them falling into famine but we are not good at taking them off the cliff, away from food insecurity."
The UN World Food Programme said last month more than 20 million people - greater than the population of Romania or Florida - risk dying from starvation within six months in four separate famines.