Saturday, Aug 08, 2020

Nearly 28 million people were already food insecure before COVID-19 in the IGAD region

Nairobi / Djibouti, 4th June 2020: An estimated 27.6 million people across the IGAD region were classified in Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3+) levels of acute food insecurity in 2019. This figure represents 20% of the total population facing food insecurity that required urgent action across the world. Without taking into account the effects of COVID-19, projections indicate that around 25 million people would face acute food insecurity in the region requiring urgent action (IPC Phase 3 or above) in 2020, largely as a result of weather extremes, conflict/insecurity and economic shocks. However, the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic is likely to push the numbers of acutely food-insecure people well beyond these early 2020 forecasts.

This was revealed in the Regional Focus on the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Member States of the 2020 Global Report on Food Crises (GRFC) launched today. This report is the culmination of a joint analysis led by the Food Security Information Network (FSIN), under the Global Network Against Food Crises, that provides a comprehensive regional context on food security. 

"Our region faces multiple threats to food security. We are living challenging times with extreme climate events and the worst desert locust invasion in decades. Currently, we are grappling with the severe challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic and widespread flooding of arable lands. This report provides vital evidence to inform coordinated and cost-efficient strategies to tackle the root cause of the food crisis." said Workneh Gebeyehu, IGAD Executive Secretary. 

“The food security outlook for 2020 was of concern with locust swarms before COVID-19,” said World Food Programme (WFP) Regional Director, Michael Dunford. “What began as a health crisis and became a global pandemic risks broadening into a socio-economic shock multiplying the total number of hungry people in the region.”

“Our attention must now turn to what can be done to reduce the number of food insecure people in the region,” said the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations’ (FAO) Subregional Coordinator for Eastern Africa, David Phiri. “The disruptive impact of COVID-19, the Desert Locust, recurrent flooding, and conflict/insecurity will continue to hamper the availability of food and people’s access to it across the subregion. Building resilient food systems is now more crucial than ever.” 

Key messages 

  • Weather extremes, conflict/insecurity and economic shocks were the main drivers of acute food insecurity across the region in 2019. 

  • Three major crises were among the top 10 worst food crises in the world, namely Ethiopia (8 million acutely food insecure people in need of urgent food and livelihood assistance), South Sudan (7 million), and Sudan (5.9 million).

  • In terms of prevalence of acute food insecurity, the highest shares were found in South Sudan, where 61 percent of the analysed population was in Crisis or worse (IPC Phase 3 or above), followed by Ethiopia (27 percent), Kenya (22 percent), Somalia (17 percent) and Sudan (14 percent). 

  • Acute food insecurity levels across the IGAD region have steadily increased since the Global Report on Food Crisis was launched in 2016. Between 2018 and 2019, the number of people in need of urgent food assistance (IPC Phase 3 or above) increased by 2 percent, or about 650 000 people. 

  • Without taking into account the effects of COVID-19, projections indicate that around 25 million people would face acute food insecurity in the region requiring urgent action (IPC Phase 3 or above) in 2020. The projected improvements compared to 2019 were primarily due to more favorable rainfall prospects that would improve crop production and livestock performance. 

  • The data and the analyses in the report were prepared before the global COVID-19 pandemic. The COVID-19 pandemic is likely to push the numbers of acutely food-insecure people well beyond the early 2020 forecasts. The impact will be especially high for informal sector workers, casual labourers, and self-employed, humanitarian aid dependent displaced people living in overcrowded camps, people in slums and low-income government workers.

  • The information in the report provides agencies, stakeholders, governments and other key stakeholders with reliable collective data and analysis to inform coordinated and cost-efficient strategies to tackle the root cause of the food crisis. 

  • Member countries in the region are encouraged to continue working with all stakeholders (civil society, humanitarian partners, development partners etc.) to address the immediate needs of people facing severe levels of food and nutrition insecurity, while at the same time building the longer-term resilience of vulnerable households.

Download Summary Report
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