The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (UNFAO) has reported that there are 41 countries that continue to require some external assistance to meet food requirements. Conflicts act as the primary cause of food insecurity, with adverse weather conditions also acutely affecting food availability according to the agency.
In its quarterly report, Crop Prospects and Food Production, released 19 September, there are no country changes in the past six months and 31 are African countries. Correspondingly, Latin American and Asian cereal harvests are expected to be strong and improved security conditions in Syrian Arab Republic have boosted production there.
The report indicates that civil unrest and/or open conflict affect about 20 of the countries, while refugee influxes affect others. For example, in Afghanistan, 3.6 million people are reported to be in "emergency" (IPC Phase 4) levels of food insecurity, with another 10 million at "crisis" (IPC Phase 3) levels. In South Sudan, about 6.35 million people, or 54 percent of the total population, are estimated to be severely food insecure.
Conflicts and food insecurity
In Syria, despite the 2019 improved wheat harvest approximately 6.5 million people are food insecure with an additional 2.5 million people at risk of food insecurity without appropriate livelihood support.
Conflict and civil insecurity are primary drivers of food insecurity in Burundi, Cameroon, Democratic Republic of Congo, Yemen and parts of Myanmar and Nigeria.
Venezuela’s issues are complex: hyperinflation has severely eroded local purchasing power, generating acute constraints on households' access to food; cereal production is expected to decline due to a lack of agricultural inputs. Up to 4.3 million people have left the country and settled in neighboring countries, where their humanitarian needs are "significant", the report says.
Poor precipitation, including severe dryness in East Africa, is exacerbating the food insecurity situation in several countries in the region.
Overall cereal output in East Africa in 2019 is forecast to drop by 5.6 percent from 2018, with the sharpest output contractions expected to be recorded in Kenya and the Sudan.
In western Africa, hydro-meteorological stations in Mauritania and Senegal registered large seasonal rainfall deficits through mid-August. Adverse weather conditions has halved the 2019 cereal harvest in Zimbabwe, where the number of food insecure people is expected to almost double in early 2020 compared to the same period the year before.
In Asia, crop production in the Democratic People's Republic of Korea is forecast to be smaller than usual, due to below-average rains and low water irrigation availabilities April through June 019. Around 40 percent of the population are estimated to be food insecure and in urgent need of food assistance according to the results from a joint FAO/WFP rapid food security assessment conducted last April.
FAO expects the 2019 aggregate cereal production for the 51 Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) to remain broadly unchanged at 473.5 million tons, a result emanating from growth in Asia offset by declines in Africa.
Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People's Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini, Ethiopia, Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, Uganda, Venezuela, Yemen and Zimbabwe.