PHP seeks to impact famine in conflict zones

Twenty Million on Brink of Famine

By Eileen Schuhmann | Presbyterian Hunger Program

School children in Juba, South Sudan plan out a school garden. Photo courtesy of International Institute of Rural Reconstruction.

We tend to associate famine with weather-related food supply issues. However, conflict is the primary driver of “persistent severe hunger” (IFPRI).

On May 24, 2018, the UN Security Council recognized for the first time that armed conflict and violence are closely linked to food insecurity – a risk currently threatening millions of people. Sixty percent of the 815 million people worldwide impacted by chronic hunger live in conflict zones (WFP).

Conflict often disrupts agricultural production, displaces people from their land and livelihoods, restricts the movement of goods, and impedes humanitarian relief efforts. Famine tends to be a byproduct of war, but sometimes is a deliberate strategy of war.

Currently, more than 20 million people in Nigeria, Somalia, South Sudan and Yemen are experiencing severe food insecurity and on the brink of famine due primarily to conflict (OCHA).

Boko-Haram related violence in northeastern Nigeria has displaced 1.7 million people and undermined food security there. The Nigerian government initiated military restrictions on freedom of movement to cut non-state armed groups off from food and goods, leading to further dependence of many civilians on humanitarian assistance.

More than 3.1 million Somalis need urgent food assistance due to an ongoing war with al-Shabab militants and years of drought. Pastoralists have lost 65% of their animals.

In 2017, famine was declared in parts of Unity State in the northern-central part of South Sudan. Four years of civil war has left 6 million people in a situation of severe food insecurity. Extreme food prices have worsened food accessibility and devastated the economy.

Civil war has turned Yemen into the world’s largest food emergency, with close to 18 million people in need of food assistance. Water sources, farms and trading routes have been destroyed in the conflict.

These conflicts have in many instances spilled over into neighboring countries. The conflict in Nigeria crossed into the extreme north of Cameroon, placing pressure on community grain banks installed there by the Joining Hands network RELUFA. In 2016, the Presbyterian Hunger Program was able to provide RELUFA with a grant to expand its community grain bank program in the region by constructing two grain storage facilities and allocating 250 bags of maize grains.

The Presbyterian Hunger Program, out of a deep desire to partner in ending global famine, has strategically reached out to organizations doing food security work in these four countries to request the submission of proposals for consideration by our Advisory Committee for One Great Hour of Sharing funding this Fall.

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