THE World Bank has identified Nigeria, Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Niger, Democratic Republic of Congo and others as “hotspots” for acute food insecurity over the next 12 months.
Nigeria is the only West African country in that group.
In a report, the global bank stated that in Sub-Saharan Africa, the frequency of climate shocks has made maintaining long-term food production growth increasingly harder, compounding the impact of COVID-19 pandmic on food security.
It also said the impacts of the pandemic have dramatically increased food insecurity in the poorest and most vulnerable countries served by the Bank’s International Development Association (IDA).
According to the World Food Programme (WFP), up to 96 million additional people were pushed into acute food insecurity in 2020 across 54 International Development Association ( IDA) countries.
Added to the 137 million acutely food insecure people at the end of 2019 across these countries, this brings the total to 233 million people by the end of 2020.
It stressed that people living in fragile and conflict-affected situations are particularly at risk. The report said World Bank projections based on application of the findings from a stochastic model to predict food insecurity suggest this could further increase to about 330 million in 2021.
The report also stated that unlike the 2008 food crisis, which was driven by disruptions in global markets, the current crisis is driven by disruptions in local job and product markets where massive income and remittance losses have reduced both urban and rural households’ ability to purchase food. Lamenting on the scenario the report said supply disruptions to local markets have reduced food availability and increased local food prices.
“Import-dependent economies face additional difficulties as currency depreciations have increased the cost of food and other essential imports. Supply disruptions include: movement restrictions impeding food trade, closing of ‘wet markets’, lower availability of labour, lack of liquidity particularly for large food traders, closure of fragile informal and micro, small and medium enterprises”.
It also observed that as a result of these supply disruptions, food price inflation in IDA countries has risen significantly faster than overall inflation, especially affecting the price of perishable and more nutritious foods relative to grains the report stated.
According to the reports the impacts are adding to the multiple drivers underlying the pre-COVID rising trend in global hunger since 2014, the trend has been appreciably steeper and started sooner across IDA countries compared to the global increase.
On other causes of hunger in Nigeria and other Sub-Saharan Africa, it stated that the frequency of climate shocks to per capita food production has increased from once every 12.5 years (1982-2006) to once every 2.5 years (2007-2016). It regretted that maintaining long-term per capita food production growth is becoming increasingly harder with these more frequent weather-induced setbacks.
The report also noted that violent conflict in Nigeria and some other countries in the region has surged since 2010, with food insecurity both a consequence and a cause of conflict. It observed also that physical insecurity has reduced investment incentives, while violence has disrupted transportation to markets and destroyed infrastructure essential for income growth and food security. At the same time, food insecurity, driven by climate shocks, food price volatility, exclusion, and lack of economic opportunities, has increased conflict risk the statement added.
The World Bank report said: “ the food insecurity in the region is the reason why IDA’s response has focused on both immediate food needs and the longer-term underlying drivers of food insecurity. This is as IDA has provided $5.3 billion in new commitments to food security through the six months to the end September 2020. About half of this response is to meet immediate food security needs, and half to address the longer-term drivers of food insecurity”.
Advising countries in this bracket the World Bank it underscored the importance of better aligning policies and public spending to deliver on improved food security outcomes. According to the bank this alignment is critical for attracting more private investment and promoting technological change. It added that better logistics and digital technologies can also help improve the efficiency, resilience, and inclusiveness of markets and agricultural value chains.
It added that food security responses within fragile and conflict-affected situations need to increasingly address the interlocking characteristics constraining development in these situations. This includes reducing conflict risks, improving social cohesion and citizen perception of state legitimacy, developing the private sector and jobs, and providing livelihoods for displaced people and refugees which can all help further improve food security.