By Gabriel Ewepu – Abuja
As starvation and hunger storm hit Africa including Nigeria, Oxfam, Wednesday, raised the alarm over another 11 million people in Africa to go hungry.
This was contained in a statement issued by Oxfam International, where its Nigeria Country Director, Dr Vincent Ahonsi, pointed out that 27 million people currently suffering from hunger in West Africa.
According to Ahonsi the Food and Agriculture Organisation, FAO, of United Nation’s just launched ‘State of Food Insecurity and Nutrition in the World 2022’ report, stating that as many as 828 million people were hungry in 2021, an increase of 150 million since the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said: “It is deeply concerning that global hunger has been spiraling since 2019, and is now at such devastating levels around the world.
“This is happening not just because of a shortage of food alone, but rather as a consequence of broken food systems, supply chain disruptions occasioned by conflicts and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, and worsening climate change.”
On Nigerian hunger situation, he said: “In Nigeria, pockets of droughts and conflicts are either making farming difficult, or forcing arable lands to be abandoned with food prices drastically going up, preventing the poorest from access to food.
“Many people are being forced to skip meals, sell livestock or land, take out loans, and withdraw their children from school, with the girls most often the first.
“With more than 27 million people currently suffering from hunger in the West African region and another 11 million facing the possibility of going hungry, there cannot be a more perfect hunger storm.”
However, he (Ahonsi) called on rich donor governments to fulfill funding pledges to save people from dying of hunger and starvation, as less than 20 per cent of the $3.8bn UN appeal for the Central Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin has been funded.
“To save lives, rich donor governments must honor their promised funding pledges.
“To date, less than 20% of the $3.8bn UN appeal for the Central Sahel and the Lake Chad Basin has been funded.”
Meanwhile, he tasked governments should focus investment on small-scale food producers and food workers to tackle the worsening malnutrition and hunger in their countries.
“Governments must stop making empty promises or creating more bureaucratic processes. Instead, they need to invest in small-scale food producers and food workers.
“They need to repurpose our global agriculture and food system to better serve the health of people, our planet, and our economies.
“We must put our money where our mouth is”, he advised.
He also urged that, “Western governments should free up resources through progressive tax including taxing billionaires – in order to invest in diverse, local sustainable food production that helps countries to become less dependent on food imports; and support smallholder food producers, especially women.
“West African leaders need to do more to facilitate non-violent, non-conflict dispute resolution.”