Thursday, February 16, 2017

East Africa faces fresh famine crisis | Public Finance

ast Africa faces fresh famine crisis | Public Finance: "East Africa faces fresh famine crisis By: Emma Rumney 15 Feb 17 The risk of famine and severe food insecurity in eastern Africa is being compounded by the emergence of new pests and rising food prices. Web_DroughtZambia_shutterstock_74778760.jpg   A regional emergency meeting kicked off today in Zimbabwe to decide how to deal with pests such as the fall armyworm, which is decimating much-needed staple crops like maize across southern Africa. The arrival of such pests and diseases looks set to exacerbate the impact of a severe drought in the region and spread elsewhere on the continent, while United Nations Food and Agriculture Organisation warned yesterday of the impact of spiralling food prices.  This is “severely constraining food access” for swathes of households and has “alarming consequences for food insecurity”, said Mario Zappacosta, FAO senior economist and coordinator of an FAO system that monitors food supply and demand. The news comes just days after NGOs urged immediate action to be taken to prevent famine in countries like Somalia – a word not used lightly by aid agencies – with Ethiopia, Kenya and Sudan and South Sudan also facing food crises. “We are undoubtedly in a crisis, but the situation will even get worse, especially if the April rains perform poorly,” said Fatoumata Nafo-Traoré, the International Federation of the Red Cross’ regional director for Africa. “We need to act decisively, we need to act massively and we need to act now if we are to prevent a repeat of the awful scenes of 2011,” she said, referring to a drought in the region that saw over 260,000 people die in a famine in Somalia alone. The IFRC said that 11 million people are currently in need of urgent food assistance in Somalia, Ethiopia and Kenya alone. In 2011, more than 13 million were in need in those three countries and South Sudan. In the conflict-hit country today, another 2.8 million people are in need of urgent food assistance. At the same time, 18 million people are in need in war-torn Yemen and approximately 5.1 million are acutely food insecure in north eastern Nigeria. Conflict, as in the three countries above, and the super strong El Niño weather event of the past two years, which caused severe drought across numerous African nations, are the main drivers of the crisis. Somalia, where two seasons of drought led to failed harvests, left three-quarters of the country’s livestock dead and more than half of its population in acute need of food, is perhaps the worst hit. The FAO said yesterday that grain prices in some market towns in Somalia doubled in January from a year earlier, with weather forecasts predicting another poor performance in the next rainy season. Maize prices have also doubled in Arusha, Tanzania since early 2016, and are 25% higher than 12 months earlier in the country’s largest city Dar es Salaam. In South Sudan, food prices are between two and four times higher than a year earlier, and maize is up by 75% in Uganda and 30% in Kenya. The price of livestock has also risen by between 30% and 60% in the past twelve months in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. “This is the worst situation we have seen in the region since 2011,” said IFRC’s Nafo-Traoré. “We have an opportunity to prevent suffering of a similar scale, but only if we act now.”"

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Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Millions of people face food shortages in Ethiopia

FAO calls for immediate response to prevent catastrophe due to severe drought
29 January 2017, Addis Ababa - With as little as one-quarter of expected rainfall received, widespread drought conditions in the Horn of Africa have intensified since the failure of the October-December rains, FAO said today.
FAO estimates that over 17 million people are currently in crisis and emergency food insecurity levels in member-countries of the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), namely Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda, which are in need of urgent humanitarian assistance.
Areas of greatest concern cover much of Somalia, north-east and coastal Kenya, south-east of Ethiopia as well as the Afar region still to recover from El Nino induced drought of 2015/16; and South Sudan and Darfur region of Sudan due to the protracted insecurity.
Currently, close to 12 million people across SomaliaEthiopia and Kenya are in need of food assistance, as families face limited access to food and income, together with rising debt, low cereal and seed stocks, and low milk and meat production. A pre-famine alert has been issued for Somalia and an immediate and at scale humanitarian response is highly required.
Acute food shortage and malnutrition also remains to be a major concern in many parts of South Sudan, Sudan (west Darfur) and Uganda's Karamoja region.
FAO warns that if response is not immediate and sufficient, the risks are massive and the costs high.
"The magnitude of the situation calls for scaled up action and coordination at national and regional levels. This is, above all, a livelihoods and humanitarian emergency - and the time to act is now", said FAO Deputy Director-General, Climate and Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo. "We cannot wait for a disaster like the famine in 2011".
Semedo was speaking on behalf of the FAO Director-General at a High-Level Panel on Humanitarian Situation in the Horn of Africa chaired by the United Nations Secretary-General, António Guterres, on the sidelines of the 28th AU Summit (Addis-Ababa).
"The drought situation in the Region is extremely worrying, primarily in almost all of Somalia but also across Southern and South-eastern Ethiopia, and northern Kenya. As a consequence, with the next rains at least eight weeks away and the next main harvest not until July, millions are at risk of food insecurity across the region", Semedo said.
For his part Guterres said: "We must express total solidarity with the people of Ethiopia on the looming drought, as a matter of justice." The UN Secretary-General called for a stronger commitment to work together.
Drought impacts livelihoods
Repeated episodes of drought have led to consecutive failed harvests, disease outbreaks, deteriorating water and pasture conditions and animal deaths.
"Insecurity and economic shocks affect the most vulnerable people", warned Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa. "The situation is rapidly deteriorating and the number of people in need of livelihood and humanitarian emergency assistance is likely to increase as the dry and lean season continue with significant negative impact on livelihoods and household assets as well as on the food security and nutrition of affected rural communities", he added.
In 2016, refugees and asylum seekers increased by over 0.5 million to 3 million compared to 2015.
Strengthening FAO's efforts to drought response
"FAO's partnership to build resilience to shocks and crises in the Horn of Africa is critical and will increase," assured Tijani.
Recently, FAO and IGAD agreed on some key steps to enhance collaboration in mitigating the severe drought currently affecting the countries in the Horn of Africa region and strengthening food security and resilience analysis.
The two organizations emphasized the importance of enhancing the role of the Food Security and Nutrition Working Group (FSNWG), The Integrated Phase Classification (IPC) and the Resilience Analysis Unit to enhance the effectiveness of the Early warning-Early action and resilience investments.
FAO calls for joint priorities to increase and include enhanced coordination, increased and systematic engagement of member States and effective response to member States' identified needs, as well as strengthened resource mobilization efforts.

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Prof. Muse Tegegne has lectured sociology Change &  Liberation  in Europe, Africa and Americas. He has obtained  Doctorat es Science from the University of Geneva.   A PhD in Developmental Studies & ND in Natural Therapies.  He wrote on the  problematic of  the Horn of  Africa extensively. He Speaks Amharic, Tigergna, Hebrew, English, French. He has a good comprehension of Arabic, Spanish and Italian.