3 September 2017

Somalia: UN Food Agency Chief Warns of Soaring Hunger

The head of the UN Food and Agriculture Organization Jose Graziano da Silva has warned that there is increasing hunger in Africa due to factors including prolonged drought, floods and conflicts.

Graziano da Silva said this on Thursday while concluding a three day visit to Uganda where he held discussions with the government about advancing sustainable agriculture and strengthening collaboration and strategic partnership for a hunger-free country.

He told reporters here, 40 km south of the capital Kampala, that over the last three years hunger has increased in Africa and yet it is decreasing in other parts of the world.

He said the agency would in about two weeks announce new figures of the hunger situation.

Graziano da Silva was speaking after meeting Uganda's Minister of Agriculture, Animal Industry and Fisheries, Vincent Bamulangaki Sempijja.

Sempijja said that although Uganda is not yet facing a food crisis, it faced a shock after it was invaded by the Fall Army Worms which destroyed crops, especially maize.

He said the attack came shortly after the country had undergone a prolonged dry spell which reduced production.

Sempijja added that the influx of South Sudan refugees into the country exerted more pressure on the food situation.

"We would be having a lot of food but we now have over 1.5 million refugees.

"This is a big challenge of top of challenges like drought," he said.

Since fighting broke out in South Sudan in late 2013, more than 1 million refugees have crossed into Uganda. Other refugees are from neighboring Democratic Republic of Congo, Rwanda and Burundi among others.

FAO earlier this year announced that in Africa, famine had broken out in Nigeria, Somalia and South Sudan.

Last month, FAO and the World Food Programme in a food security report said the rising violence and displacement in the Democratic Republic of Congo was pushing the country to near famine levels.

Integrated Food Security Phase Classification analysis said 7.7 million Congolese face acute hunger - a 30 percent increase over the last year.

To relieve the pressure on Uganda regarding the refugees, FAO said in the last several years it has implemented more than 3 million U.S. dollars' worth of projects to support the refugees in Uganda.

Some of the support includes providing them with locally-adapted and diversified seeds to grow quick-maturing, high-nutrient foods as well as with kits for livestock treatment, poultry production and micro-irrigation.

During Graziano da Silva's visit to Uganda, he also signed a memorandum of understanding with the agriculture ministry.

Key issues in the agreement include ensuring food security, creating jobs for women and youths through agriculture and adapting to climate change.

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