Number of hungry Africans doubles in a decade
Rhett A. Butler,
January 24, 2006

EDITOR'S SUMMARY: The number of Africans requiring food assistance has doubled in the past decade due to crop failures, drought, failing governments, civil strife, and the impact of AIDS, said the United Nations World Food Programme. The World Food Programme says it will to provide food assistance this year to some 43 million people across Africa, including some 35 million in need of emergency food aid, for a total of over $1.8 billion.

A release from the World Food Programme appears below.

Number of Africans being fed by UN World Food Programme doubles in a decade
United Nations World Food Programme release

With the number of Africans in crisis being fed by the United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) having doubled in a decade, the agency today called on the continent's leaders, meeting in Sudan for their annual summit, and donor countries to adopt a "food first" policy this year.

WFP said it aims to provide food assistance this year to some 43 million people across Africa, including some 35 million in need of emergency food aid, for a total of over $1.8 billion.

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"These statistics do not augur well for Africa's future — and they cannot be ignored, especially since the world has produced enough food for everyone on the planet for decades," WFP Executive Director James Morris said.

"A combination of poverty, conflict, HIV/AIDS, drought and a weakened capacity for government has caused record levels of hunger stretching across the continent, from north to south and from west to east," he added.

The needy include refugees, returnees and internally displaced people, children of all ages, malnourished women and children requiring therapeutic feeding, pregnant and nursing mothers at risk of malnutrition, communities in need of infrastructure and training, and families affected by HIV/AIDS, WFP said.

"Each region in Africa has its own problems and suffering and the need for humanitarian assistance is almost overwhelming," Mr. Morris said.

The highest numbers are some 18 million hungry people in 11 East African countries. An emerging food crisis caused by drought is threatening the lives of about 5.4 million people in four of those countries: Kenya, Somalia, Ethiopia and Djibouti, WFP said.

In Southern Africa, where HIV/AIDS has hit hardest, WFP seeks to assist 9.2 million people in seven countries. And in West Africa, where war and poverty are the main scourges, WFP anticipates that at least 8.5 million people require urgent food aid in 14 countries across the Sahelian region.

"While our donors were exceptionally generous last year, providing us with some $2 billion to run operations in 40 African countries, we were approximately $550 million short of our requirements for that period," Mr. Morris said. "We need aid pledges now. As we've learned repeatedly in the past, delivering late costs far more than delivering now — and it costs lives."

This article contains a modified news release from the United Nations.

Rhett A. Butler, (January 24, 2006).

Number of hungry Africans doubles in a decade.