HUNGRIEST-South Sudan tops world’s list

Woman feeding her malnourished child

By Ayuel Chan

South Sudan has topped yet another damning list of the world’s hungriest countries according to latest food insecurity report by FAOand WFP, barely two days after being rated the world’s corrupt country by TransparencyInternational.

The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Program (WFP) in their latest report on hunger released yesterday, warned that acute food insecurity was likely to deteriorate further in 20 countries or situations (including one region) -called hunger hotspots – during the outlook period from February to May.

“South Sudan, Ethiopia, Nigeria and Yemen remain at the highest alert level from the previous edition of this report,” the two UN agencies cautioned in their report.

The agencies, in their last available assessments, said hunger-stricken countries had parts of the population identified or projected to experience starvation and death(Catastrophe, Integrated Food Security Phase Classification [IPC] Phase5), requiring the most urgent attention.

The report further reveals that across South Sudan, the magnitude and severity of already very high levels of acute food insecurity was likely to increase further.

“Food insecurity has likely further deteriorated beyond the latest available IPC projections and is expected to continue increasing. Preliminary results of the sectoral analysis undertaken in November 2021 identified 11counties of extreme concern for food insecurity in 2022 as compared to 6in 2021.”

The FOA and WFP’s report also projected that some parts of the country were likely to face famine.

“In Pibor County, Jonglei State, the IPC FRC had alerted in December 2020 that several payams were in famine likely or at risk of famine for the projected period from December to July 2021.”

The report also noted that Africa’s largest island country, Madagascar as the only country that has achieved significant progress to alleviate 28 000people previously projected to face catastrophe (IPC Phase 5).

“Compared to the previous edition of this report, the situation in Madagascar is no longer at the highest alert level as the risk of catastrophic food insecurity situation – 28 000 people were previously projected to face Catastrophe (IPC Phase 5) by October– December 2021has been averted for now as a result of the broad coverage of humanitarian food assistance.”

“Nonetheless, Madagascar remains a hunger hotspot due to persisting high levels of acute food insecurity,” the report added.

Other countries named in the world hungriest list that also remain of great concern due to high numbers of people in critical food insecurity coupled with worsening drivers expected to further intensify life-threatening conditions, include Afghanistan, the Central African Republic, theDemocratic Republic of the Congo, Haiti, Honduras, Sudan and the Syrian Arab Republic.

Combined effects of the COVID-19 global pandemic, erratic rainfall, record-high food prices and security deteriorations have been noted as the drivers of acute food insecurity in these countries.

“Organized violence or conflict remains the primary drivers, actual or potential, for acute hunger in the hunger hotspots and globally. Weather extremes such as heavy rains, tropical storms, hurricanes, flooding, drought and climate variability remain significant drivers in some countries and regions.The ongoing La Niña conditions additionally lead to an elevated risk of the atwo-year sequence of dry conditions, particularly in East Africa and central Asia.”

“Almost two years into the COVID-19 pandemic, global and national economic disruptions caused by several contagion waves have escalated while new variants bring new uncertainties and might negatively affect their economies. Overall, high food prices and low household purchasing power are major economic concerns for further increasing acute food insecurity,” the report further said.

The report urged governments to provide the needed support to enable humanitarian agencies to provide urgently needed help to save lives and livelihoods in the 20 hunger hotspots.

“In four of these hotspots – Ethiopia, Nigeria South Sudan and Yemen -humanitarian actions are critical to preventing starvation and death.The report provides country-specific recommendations on priorities for emergency response as well as anticipatory action to address existing humanitarian needs and ensure short-term protective interventions before new needs materialize.”

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