Acute Food Insecurity Threatens 36 Million West Africans

Countries in West Africa are threatened with a hunger season that has the potential to increase cases of food insecurity.

West African region
Illustration. The West African region enters a hunger season. (Documentation. Farmland)

ACTNews, AFRICA – Some experts predict that West African countries will face hunger season in the coming months. Hunger season is the time of year when food supplies have been depleted, with months remaining before the next harvest. The extended dry season is one of the causes of this condition.

The alert comes as new data from the region indicated that almost 36 million people are expected to be acutely food insecure by the time next year’s lean season comes round. It is usually in June, July, and August, but it could start as early as March. It represents an alarming 24 percent increase in 2020, according to the latest Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC) survey, which aid agencies use to gauge levels of need.

“Behind these numbers, there are real people,” said Ollo Sib from the World Food Programme (WFP). We did travel recently across the region. Almost everywhere we went, people are worried.”

Among the reasons for this deteriorating situation are years of exceptionally dry conditions and poor harvests in the Sahel, which have increased competition for land and water and heightened tensions between farmers and herders.

This has contributed to higher food prices in the region, which are “in general 30 to 40 percent higher compared to the rest of the world”, explained WFP’s Mr. Ollo, Senior Research, and Assessment and Monitoring Officer for West and Central Africa Region.

“In Bol, in Lake Chad region, pastoralists sell cattle to buy cereals,” he said. “Last year, with one cattle sold, they could buy seven bags of millet or more. But this year, they told me they are getting only five bags of millet.”

Not only about drought, but the conflict also causes food insecurity in West Africa. The farming community reportedly felt unsafe to go out into the fields because of the threat of attack by armed groups.

“The reduced availability of pasture and the limited mobility due to insecurity will pose tremendous challenges to pastoralists in the next few months,” warned Amadou Diop, IPC-CH Regional Advisor for the Sahel and West Africa.[]