The World Bank Group President Jim Yong Kim has decried the devastating level of food insecurity in north-eastern Nigeria, some other countries in sub-Saharan Africa and Yemen
"Famine is a stain on our collective conscience. Millions of lives are at risk and more will die if we do not act quickly and decisively," Kim said in a statement obtained on the Bank's website.
We are mobilising an immediate response for Ethiopia, Kenya, Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan, and Yemen. Our first priority is to work with partners to make sure that families have access to food and water. We are working toward a financial package of more than $1.6 billion to build social protection systems, strengthen community resilience, and maintain service delivery to the most vulnerable.
"This includes existing operations of over $870 million that will help communities threatened by famine. I am also working with our Board of Directors to secure the approval of new operations amounting to $770 million, funded substantially through IDA's Crisis Response Window," he stated.
A famine means that a significant part of the population has no access to basic food, suffers from severe malnutrition, and death from hunger reaches unprecedented levels. Children under five are disproportionately affected. A famine can affect the well-being of a whole generation. Famine was officially declared on February 20 in South Sudan, impacting approximately 100,000 people, and according to the World Bank, there is a credible risk of other famines in Yemen, north-east Nigeria, and other countries.
Ongoing conflicts and civil insecurity are further intensifying the food insecurity of millions of people across the region, and there is already widespread displacement and other cross-border spillovers. For instance, food insecurity in Somalia and famine in South Sudan are accelerating the flow of refugees into Ethiopia and Uganda.
The UN estimates that about 20 million people in Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen are on the "tipping point" of famine. Drought conditions also extend to Uganda and parts of Tanzania. The last famine was declared in 2011 in Somalia during which 260,000 people died.
To this end, Kim said the multilateral institution was in solidarity with people now threatened by famine.
Furthermore, the statement explained that the World Bank Group would help respond to the immediate needs of the current famine, adding that "we must recognise that famine will have lasting impacts on people's health, ability to learn, and earn a living. So we will also continue to work with communities to reclaim their livelihoods and build resilience to future shocks."
It further said the multilateral agency was coordinating closely with the UN and other partners in all areas of response.
"We know that resolution to this acute crisis will not be possible without all humanitarian and development actors working together. We call on the international community to respond robustly and quickly to the UN global appeal for resources for the famine. To prevent crises in the future, we must invest in addressing the root causes and drivers of fragility today and help countries build institutional and societal resilience."