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Hunger stalks 48 million people in West Africa amid supply curbs

Food inflation has surged in Africa since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022

Hunger, Africa

Photo: Bloomberg

Bloomberg

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By Katarina Hoije

As many as 48 million people across western and central Africa will go hungry in the coming months as efforts to contain inflation contribute to food shortages, the United Nations food agency said.
 
The increase in the number of people in the region facing food insecurity to the highest level in a decade is being driven by coastal nations including Togo and Benin, which have requested food assistance for the first time, said Ollo Sib, a regional adviser at the World Food Programme. Millions of people in Ghana and Ivory Coast are also facing hunger, he said.

Food inflation has surged in Africa since Russia invaded Ukraine in February 2022. The conflict stoked an increase in fuel and fertilizer costs that contributed to double-digit increases in food costs from Nigeria to Ethiopia. Trade restrictions to control the cost of staples is contributing to shortages in the region, Sib said in an interview Tuesday in Dakar, the capital of Senegal.

“We have identified 50 different measures taken across the region by all countries that restrict the movement of food and other goods from one country to another and that is having an impact on food supply,” he said.

Burkina Faso has halted grain exports to Niger, Nigeria has stopped rice shipments to Benin and Ivory Coast has halted exports of plantains to Burkina Faso, according to data collected by the WFP.

Conflict in the Sahel region and climate shocks continue to contribute to food insecurity, he said. The town of Menaka in eastern Mali and Djibo in northern Burkina Faso are among 30 localities identified by the WFP as areas where food transport has been blocked because of insecurity.

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First Published: Apr 18 2023 | 11:36 PM IST

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