Some 36 million people are expected to be food insecure in 2022 in West and Central Africa between June and August 2022, the World Food Programme (WFP) has warned today. This is a 24 percent increase compared to 2020.
At a news briefing today at the United Nations in Geneva, Ollo Sib, Senior Research, Assessment and Monitoring Officer for West and Central Africa Region (WFP) said that “we are talking about 36 million people in West Africa and Cameron included who will need humanitarian assistance during the up-coming lean season. And if we add Central Africa, we are talking about 38 million people.”
Food insecurity is expanding in the region, the number of people in emergency keeps increasing.
According to WFP’s Ollo Sib “people are worried mainly for 3 reasons in this region: we see food insecurity expanded in the region and the raining season was not good at all, the harvest is bad in many locations, in many areas. There is not enough water and pasture for livestock.”
People are also worried about the high cost of food, in general 30-40 percent higher compared to the rest of the world as Mr. Sib witnessed from a recent trip to the Lake Chad region.
“I was talking to pastoralists a few months ago and they used to sell cattle to buy cereals, mainly millet, and this year with one cattle they managed to get maximum five bags of cereals. Last year, same time, same period, they were able to get seven bags of cereals.”
The persistence of insecurity, the institutional fragilities and the multiplication of inter-communal conflicts followed by displacement are hindering planting and harvesting.
“In the costal countries Côte d’Ivoire, Benin, Togo, people see the activities of armed groups coming towards them and people are worried”, said WFP’s Ollo Sib.
In addition to all these factors, people still have to deal with the long-term effects of Covid-19.
For Amadou Diop, Regional Food Security Advisor for Sahel and West Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) stressed the gravity of the situation. He said that “the difficulties are very high: More than 70 million people are in such a situation in the region. Unfortunately, the situation is expected to significantly deteriorate during the next lean season between June and August 2022 and the population and the number of people which will experience a critical food insecurity situation would really reach 35.8 million people in the whole region. This is a figure we never reached before in that region. So that means that the situation is extremely critical.”
Given the current situation, anticipatory planning and early actions are required.
“The pastoral lean season is expected to be starting in three months. So, we need at the same time as early as 2022 to adequately invest in the preparation for the next agricultural season. And therefore, we believe that investing in people’s livelihoods is the key to prevent for the insecurity from worsening”, stressed Ollo Sib. “Climate and the conflict remain two major drivers of the poor harvest and poor production we are experiencing in the Sahel.”