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Supporting transparent, needs-based and relevant responses to food crises through coordinated analyses – Presentation of the results of the Global Report on Food Crises 2017

Reducing the vulnerability of populations affected by and at risk of food insecurity requires a clear understanding of the context of food crises and a goal-oriented analysis toolkit. Food security analysis is necessary not only to understand the strength and magnitude of the shocks hindering sustainable food systems, but also to provide guidance and scale up interventions.

Technical, operational and financial partners require evidence-based information to ensure appropriate planning and resources to tackle the consequences of food security crises within an evolving humanitarian financing landscape. The 2016 World Humanitarian Summit has prompted a major rethink of the way that financing is delivered in crisis settings, highlighting the need for more long-term development investments to address risk, prevent crises and build resilience.

A diverse set of food security analysis modalities and methodologies is already in place, along with early warning systems. However, partial geographical coverage and a lack of comparable data within a standardised system makes it difficult to get a full global picture of food crises at any given time. A joint effort is needed to ensure that findings are brought together into one global, public product.

In 2016, the European Commission invited FAO and WFP to contribute, by providing food security data and analysis, to the production of a report aiming at comparing food crises over the world so as  to facilitate internal decision making processes. The preparation of the report was led by the EU- JRC's. Following the successful experience of the 2016 analysis, the three organizations agreed to move forward, involving additional partners in the global assessment of the food crisis situation, with the aim of producing a consensus-based yearly report from early 2017. The initiative was further cemented with the launch of the Global Network Against Food Crises during the WHS  on 23 May 2016 in Istanbul, Turkey.

In a nutshell, a transparent process to respond to food crises on the basis of needs rests on two parallel but complementary work streams:

  1. The first pillar is essentially of political nature, this the nascent Global Network Against Food Crises. The Network will comprise key decision makers from resource partners as well as regional organization, Civil Society Representatives and key UN agencies. Its mandate will be to facilitate a better coordination of assistance and the monitoring of responses to food crises. This will be based on the second pillar of the initiative.
  2. The Global Report on Food Crises. The report is designed to (i) to provide an accurate, comprehensive assessment of food crises by jointly analysing data from the main global and regional food security monitoring systems; (ii) to add value by bringing together complex data and information from different regional and global technical agencies through a transparent, consultative and consensus-based process; and (iii) to drive coordination through an independent analysis that allows for informed planning and implementation for humanitarian and resilience-building initiatives.

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The 2017 report was launched in Brussels on March 31 2017. It presents interesting findings on the countries and/or population groups facing high severity and magnitude of acute food insecurity based on the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification (IPC)/Cadre Harmonisé (CH) classification. Some 108 million people are faced with a severe level of acute food insecurity in 48 countries affected by food crises. This represents a drastic increase compared to 2015 when the number was around 80 million. The report identifies three countries (Somalia, Yemen, and northeastern Nigeria) as at risk of famine in addition to South Sudan where a famine declaration was issued in late February 2017, clearly showing the escalating need for humanitarian assistance as well as of longer term and resilience based approaches. Its preparation involved: FAO, WFP, FEWS NET, EU, UNICEF, IGAD, CILSS and SICA. 

Key message
Joint analyses are key input for assessing how to prevent rather than just respond to food crises. The Global Report is a joint effort between major stakeholders including technical partners and donors to strengthen the link between analysis and decision making to improve evidence-based responses. The Global Network is the political architecture to foster this link by promoting the uptake of information into coordinated responses and commitments and increasing accountability.

Objectives of the event include:

1. Presentation of the  Global Report on Food Crises 2017 to inform the audience and get feedbacks on challenges and possible areas for improvement for the next reports.

2. Inform the audience on the Global Network against Food Crises as an initiative to promote decision-making, foster coordinated responses and make sure that analysis is then translated into action to get feedback on challenges and way forward.

Globally, 108 million people in 2016 were reported to be facing Crisis level food insecurity or worse (IPC Phase 3 and above). This represents a 35 percent increase compared to 2015 when the figure was almost 80 million.

The acute and wide-reaching effects of conflicts left significant numbers of food insecure people in need of urgent assistance in Yemen (17 million); Syria (7.0 million); South Sudan (4.9 million); Somalia (2.9 million); northeast Nigeria (4.7 million), Burundi (2.3 million) and Central African Republic (2 million). The immediate outlook points to worsening conditions in some locations, with risk of famine in isolated areas of northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen.

Conflict causes widespread displacement (internal and external), protracting food insecurity and placing a burden on host communities. The populations worst affected are those of Syria (6.3 million Internally Displaced People) and Syrian refugees in neighbouring countries (4.8 million); Iraq (3.1 million); Yemen (3.2 million), South Sudan (3 million), Somalia (2.1 million) and northeast Nigeria (2.1 million).

In some countries, food security has been undermined by El Niño, which largely manifested in drought conditions that damaged agricultural livelihoods. The countries most affected are in eastern and southern Africa and include Somalia, Ethiopia (9.7 million), Madagascar (0.8 million in the Grand Sud), Malawi (6.7 million), Mozambique (1.9 million) and Zimbabwe (4.1 million). Projections for early 2017 indicate an increase in the severity of food insecurity in these regions. This is particularly the case in southern and south-eastern Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia.

Record staple food prices, notably in some southern African countries, Nigeria and South Sudan, also severely constrained food access for vulnerable populations, acutely aggravating food insecurity and the risk of malnutrition.

El Niño-induced weather patterns and conflicts were the main drivers of intensified food insecurity in 2016. The persistent nature of these drivers, and their associated impacts, has weakened households’ capacity to cope, undermining their resilience and ability to recover from future shocks. The food crises in 2016 were both widespread and severe, affecting entire national populations, such as in Yemen, or causing acute damage in localized areas, such as in northeast Nigeria. These shocks were not bound by national borders and the spillover effects had a significant impact on neighbouring countries.