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UN Agencies Appeal for Support to Stop Acute Food Crises Driven by Conflict and Drought

June 2017: UN agencies have released updated reporting on acute and imminent famine and set forth additional measures addressing food security and hunger in countries facing crises driven by conflict and drought. Several agencies reiterated appeals to donors to step up support to address immediate humanitarian needs and provide recovery assistance.

This article provides an update to previous SDG Knowledge Hub coverage of the hunger crises affecting, in particular, parts of Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen. [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Hunger Crises, 21 March 2017] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Hunger Crises, 27 April 2017] [SDG Knowledge Hub Story on Hunger Crises, 11 May 2017]

Conflict and Drought Continue to Drive Food Insecurity and Famine in Africa

In March 2017, the Food and Agriculture Organization of the UN(FAO) reported in its ‘Global Report on Food Crises’ that 108 million people were facing “crisis-level food insecurity” in 2016, representing an increase of more than 35% over 2015 when almost 80 million people suffered from acute hunger. In its most recent quarterly update, ‘Crop Prospects and Food Situation,’ the organization reports that worldwide, 37 countries continue to require external assistance for food, 28 of which are in Africa. The situation is particularly severe in South Sudan, Nigeria and Yemen, where civil conflict continues to aggravate conditions of severe food insecurity and, in the case of South Sudan, famine. Drought remains the main cause of food insecurity in Somalia. Drought, followed by extreme rainfall is also risking pushing Sri Lanka into food insecurity. While the food production forecast is favorable for Southern Africa, where a strong rebound in food production is expected, conditions in East Africa remain unfavorable due to prolonged drought. [Global Report on Food Crises] [FAO Press Release on Crop Prospects and Food Situation] [UN Press Release on Crop Prospects and Food Situation] [Crop Prospects and Food Situation Quarterly Global Report #2/2017]

The link between conflict and food security is also the focus of a joint FAO-WFP (World Food Programme) report, titled ‘Monitoring food security in countries with conflict situations,’ which was presented by FAO Director-General Graziano da Silva to UN Security Council President Ambassador Sacha Sergio Llorentty Solíz. The report aims to monitor the food security situation in countries currently under surveillance by the Security Council, including on the impact of conflict on the four pillars of food insecurity: availability, access, utilization and stability. It uses existing WFP assessments and FAO early warning reports to provide: an overview of the people suffering from acute food insecurity; a description of the impact of conflict on food security; and a summary of the main drivers of food insecurity in the country. Llorentty Solíz welcomed the report as “an invaluable tool” to update the UN Security Council on the food security situation of countries in conflict. [FAO Press Release] [Joint FAO-WFP update on Monitoring Food Security in countries with conflict situations]

Somalia, East Africa

On 11 May 2017, the UK Government hosted an international conference on Somalia, bringing together leaders from around the world to discuss, among other issues, measures to improve security and reduce conflict, accelerate political reform and governance, improve economic development, and humanitarian response. The conference adopted a communique in which leaders commit to support Somalia’s peace building and recovery, and a ‘New Partnership for Somalia for Peace, Stability and Prosperity.’ Speaking at the conference, UN Secretary-General António Guterres called on the international community to contribute to a new Humanitarian Response Plan presented by the UN, which aims to provide US$900 million to address the most urgent consequences of drought in Somalia.

In related news, FAO is already undertaking a large-scale campaign to prevent further deterioration of food security in the country. The organization reported that it reached a major milestone in its efforts to treat livestock weakened by drought conditions and at risk of disease. The campaign successfully provided treatment to 12 million livestock to reinforce its coping capacity. The program aims to treat a total of 22 million livestock to safeguard the livelihoods of more than 3 million people. [Somalia Conference Press Release] [Somalia Conference Communiqué] [New Partnership for Somalia] [UN Press Release Somalia Conference] [Statement by UN Secretary-General António Guterres] [FAO Press Release Somalia Livestock Campaign]

The UN International Organization for Migration (IOM) has issued an appeal for contributions to a US$60 million fund to provide humanitarian aid and early recovery support to people in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia. The fund aims to support refugees displaced by a prolonged drought, including for shelter, protection, food security and livelihoods, water, sanitation, health and early recovery camps. The fund targets more than 2 million people, including 700,000 displaced within the region. [UN Press Release] [IOM East and Horn of Africa Drought Appeal]

South Sudan

Only a few days after the Somalia conference, the UN High Commissioner for Refugees, Filippo Grandi, and the WFP issued a joint press release calling on donors to contribute to a US$1.4 billion plan to support refugees from South Sudan in six neighboring host countries. Conflict, drought and famine have displaced more than 1.8 million people from South Sudan to Central African Republic, the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Ethiopia, Kenya, Sudan and Uganda. The funding is required to provide food and cash assistance to refugees and to bolster local economies. At the time of the press release on 15 May, the plan was only 14% funded.

FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and WFP Executive Director David Beasley echoed the appeal to donors during a visit to South Sudan on 24 May, stressing that an immediate, massive response is critical, combining emergency food assistance and support for agriculture, livestock and fisheries. FAO and WFP face an additional funding gap of US$182 million to provide food, healthcare, water and sanitation, and agricultural inputs to the most vulnerable parts of the South Sudanese population. [UNHCR-WFP Press Release] [UN Press Release] [FAO Press Release]


In Yemen, the combination of conflict, malnutrition and disease is affecting children with the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF) reporting that over four years, the number of malnourished children has doubled to half a million. The recent outbreak of cholera in Yemen is especially dangerous for malnourished children as the country’s health system is no longer able to provide necessary medication and care. As the number of cholera cases is projected to increase to 250,000 to 300,000, UNICEF is urging the international community to step up its support. [UNICEF Press Release]

FAO-AU Coordination

In order to increase coordination and response effectiveness, the heads of FAO and the African Union (AU) have committed to step-up joint efforts to end hunger and sustain peace. In a meeting on 14 June, FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva and AU Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture, Josefa Leonel Correia Sacko stressed the need for close collaboration between their organizations and with WFP and the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to “strengthen the links between sustaining peace, livelihoods and sustainable development. [FAO Press Release]