Swarms of food-devouring desert locusts threaten food security for nearly 10 million people in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, said the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group on Monday, describing the infestations as the worst in 25 years in Ethiopia and in 70 years in Kenya. The group, which focuses on central and eastern Africa, said the locust upsurge threatens the coming agricultural season.
In a “global early warning” report, the UN Food and Agriculture Organization lists eight nations with a high risk of hunger and says famine is possible in three of them: Yemen, South Sudan, and Somalia.
The number of hungry people in northeastern Nigeria has dropped by half, to 2.6 million, since mid-year, according to analysis by regional groups, which give credit to improved security and scaled-up humanitarian assistance.
The Saudi-led blockade of ports into Yemen "is limiting supplies of fuel, food and medicines," said a senior UN official in the country. "The lives of millions of people, including 8.4 million Yemenis who are a step away from famine, hinge on our ability to continue our operations and to provide health, safe water, food, shelter and nutrition support." The statement by humanitarian coordinator Jamie McGoldrick follows an assessment by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWS NET) that there is a credible risk of famine in 2018 in Yemen, South Sudan, Somalia and Nigeria.
An estimated 80 percent of Yemen's food supply arrives by boat, so the recent closure of its ports makes famine a likelihood across the country, says the Famine Early Warning Systems Network. Meanwhile, the UN says that warfare and climate change are driving up hunger rates in sub-Saharan Africa.
Nearly one-fifth of Ethiopia is in need of food aid, as a punishing drought kills off livestock in areas where people — especially pregnant women and children — rely on milk for nutrition, Reuters says.
Drought in the Horn of Africa has killed the livestock of nomadic herders and forced thousands of pastoralists into refugee camps, dependent on food aid. Authorities in Ethiopia, while dealing with the crisis, are looking into longer-term adaptations, such as introducing irrigated agriculture and small farms in the country's Somali region, "a land long known for just herding animals," says the Washington Post.
Governments are likely underestimating the risks of climate change to agriculture, especially in the event of simultaneous extreme weather events in key areas, say researchers from the U.K.’s Met office. Using 1,400 climate model simulations, the researchers discovered that the probability of severe drought was greater than if judged solely from observations.
Famine often starts in rural areas and must be prevented in rural areas, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization in a report on hunger in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen, collectively one of the world's largest food crises in 70 years. Some 20 million people in the four nations are at risk of famine, a figure that could grow to 30 million if there is no additional action, said FAO.
Some 17 million people in Yemen, 60 percent of the population, "are now facing hunger," due to armed conflict and a rapid rise in food insecurity since last summer, said the UN Food and Agriculture Organization. "Without additional humanitarian and livelihoods support, Taiz and Al Hudaydah, two governorates accounting for almost a quarter of Yemen's population, risk slipping into famine."