A new report by the Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) has listed Nigeria as one of the 37 countries currently in need of external food assistance.The global body said high levels of food insecurity persisted in the world due largely to conflicts and adverse climatic shocks that are taking a toll particularly in East African and Near East countries where large numbers of people continue to be in need of humanitarian assistance.
FAO, in its crop prospects and food situation report issued yesterday, listed the other 36 countries in need of external food assistance to include Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti and Eritrea.
The rest are Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Pakistan, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Swaziland, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe. The countries are unchanged from three months ago.
It is feared that the situation may get worse in Nigeria because of the frequent clashes between herdsmen and farmers that have led to the destruction of food products. Unfortunately, this is not captured in the FAO report.
According to FAO, civil war and insecurity are direct reasons for high hunger rates in 16 of those countries, ranging from Burundi to Yemen. Conflict is displacing millions of people, hampering agricultural activities and, in many cases, also driving basic food prices up sharply.
"Inflation in the Democratic Republic of Congo more than doubled in 2017 to a 42 percent annual rate. Violence has disrupted traditional trade routes around the Sahel, driving up prices, while food shortages are reported around southern and eastern Libya.
"Inadequate and erratic rainfall poses a growing threat to food security in Southern Africa as well as in Eastern Africa, where many rural households have suffered from four consecutive drought-affected agricultural seasons."
FAO said the overall cereal output rebounded in Africa in 2017, mostly due to strong gains in Southern Africa following the sharply reduced harvest in 2016.Cereal production in East Africa, however, saw a 7.2 percent drop, leading to increased stress in various countries. The report warns that recently-concluded harvests of secondary season cereal crops are forecast to be below average in southeastern Kenya, northeastern Tanzania and southern Somalia.