Hunger Deepens in West Africa, With 31 Million People at Risk

Soaring food prices and conflict have driven up the number of people facing hunger by more than 30% compared with the same period last year, according to the World Food Programme.

More than 31 million people in the region are expected to be food insecure and unable to feed themselves between June and August, a period when food is scarce ahead of the next harvest, the United Nations organization said in a statement Friday.

“In West Africa, conflict is already driving hunger and misery,” said Chris Nikoi, WFP’s Regional Director for West Africa. “The relentless rise in prices acts as a misery multiplier, driving millions deeper into hunger and desperation,” he said.

The Rome-based organization estimates that prices for staples have risen nearly 40% above a five-year average. That’s partly due to restrictions put in place to curb the spread of the coronavirus pandemic, which threw many out of work. Spreading Islamist violence has also prevented people from farming in countries such as Burkina Faso, Niger and Mali.

In Nigeria, where the Boko Haram insurgency has operated for more than a decade, a worsening conflict between farmers and herders is compounding the crisis, contributing to a 23% rise in food inflation in March.

The WFP needs to raise $770 million in the next six months for its operations in West and Central Africa, where it plans to assist nearly 18 million people, it said in the statement.

©2021 Bloomberg L.P.

BQ Install

Bloomberg Quint

Add BloombergQuint App to Home screen.