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FAO warns that food insecurity is set to rise again in Southern Africa
5 March 2018
Hunger rates remain high amid conflict, climate shocks, warns UN food security report. (UN News)
Increased hunger and food insecurity, fuelled by conflict and climatic challenges, continues to inflict suffering on populations in different parts of the world, forcing them to remain dependent on humanitarian assistance, a new United Nations report has warned.
According to the Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, issued Monday by the UN Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), the need for external food assistance in 37 countries – either affected by conflict or adverse climate shocks – remains unchanged compared to the situation three months back.
“Civil war and insecurity are direct reasons for high hunger rates in 16 of those countries, ranging from Burundi to Yemen,” said FAO in a news release announcing the findings.
“Conflict is displacing millions of people, hampering agricultural activities and, in many cases, also driving basic food prices up sharply,” it added.
At the same time, inadequate and erratic rainfall is also posing a growing threat to food security in southern and eastern Africa, where many rural households have suffered from four consecutive drought-affected agricultural seasons.
In Somalia, aggregated cereal production for the country’s “deyr” rainy season is estimated at 20 per cent below average, and similar pattern in rainfall and yields has been observed in north-eastern Tanzania.
Furthermore, prices of staple cereals such as wheat, millet or sorghum continued to remain high as a result of removal of subsidies, increased demand, and weakening of currencies.
In the Democratic Republic of Congo, for instance, inflation pushed prices to more than double in 2017 to a 42 percent annual rate.
Another factor driving up prices was the disruption of traditional trade routes due to violence, such as in and around the Sahel, as a result of which countries dependent on these routes (such as Libya) witnessed much higher prices as well as facing food shortages.
The FAO report lists the following 37 countries as currently in need of external food assistance: Afghanistan; Burkina Faso; Burundi; Cameroon; Central African Republic; Chad; Congo; Democratic People’s Republic of Korea; Democratic Republic of the Congo; Djibouti; Eritrea; Ethiopia; Guinea; Haiti; Iraq; Kenya; Lesotho; Liberia; Libya; Madagascar; Malawi; Mali; Mauritania; Mozambique; Myanmar; Niger; Nigeria; Pakistan; Sierra Leone; Somalia; South Sudan; Sudan; Swaziland; Syria; Uganda; Yemen; and Zimbabwe.
Feb. 2018
Dry weather conditions and high temperatures likely to reduce harvests in Southern Africa. FAO warns that food insecurity is set to rise again.
Poor rains and hot temperatures triggered water stress and adversely affected crop development in several areas of Southern Africa, FAO said today.
The spell of dry weather and erratic rains earlier in the season signals multiple risks to agricultural yields and may aggravate the impact of the Fall Armyworm pest.
Reduced harvests are "foreseen to intensify food insecurity in 2018, increasing the number of people in need of assistance," according to a new Special Alert issued by FAO''s Global Information and Early Warning System (GIEWS).
Maize production was strong in 2017 in the Southern Africa subregion, a welcome development after sharp output declines in the previous year caused by an unusually strong El Niño. Cereal production in the sub-region in 2018 is foreseen to fall due to erratic rains, along with an intense dry period in January.
The alert comes as FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva, emphasized the importance of boosting the resilience of communities - particularly in Africa - in making sure that "Zero Hunger is possible".
The number of food-insecure people in the subregion is likely to rise over the course of 2018, partly reversing last year''s sharp decline, the GIEWS alert warned.
At the household level, many smallholders and rural families are still recovering from losses due to the severe El Niño associated drought, and they are vulnerable to a downturn, GIEWS noted. This is especially the case where harvests in 2017 were poor, such as Madagascar.
It is also likely to be the case in areas where the weather trends have been unfavourable, notably parts of Lesotho, southern and central areas of Mozambique, western South Africa, southern parts of Zambia and Malawi, eastern Zimbabwe and southwestern Madagascar.
Jan.- Mar. 2018
The Global Early Warning - Early Action System (EWEA) report on food security and agriculture is developed by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) through its EWEA. The system aims to translate forecasts and early warnings into anticipatory action.
This report specifically highlights:
HIGH RISK: Yemen (risk of famine due to accessibility restrictions and further disease outbreaks), Myanmar and Bangladesh (displacement and conflict), South Sudan (risk of famine due to armed conflict), Democratic Republic of Congo (localized conflict), Somalia (risk of famine due to prolonged drought) and Kenya & Ethiopia (drought)
ON WATCH: Nigeria – northeast (conflict), Afghanistan (conflict and dry spells), Madagascar - southern (worsening food insecurity due to consecutive below-average seasons), DPR Korea (economic impact of sanctions), Syria (conflict and restricted humanitarian access), Sudan (localized dry spells), Sahel (drought), Central African republic (intensified conflict affecting livelihoods and causing internal displacement), Mongolia (impact of drought and potential severe winter conditions), Africa - Fall Armyworm (further spread of Fall Armyworm) and La Nina (floods and cyclones):
* Humanitarian is provided by the United Nations Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) to support humanitarian operations globally, see link below.

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Human rights principles to assess austerity are needed
by Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky
Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights
Feb. 2018
The negative impact of austerity measures on human rights should no longer be ignored, and effective action to avoid the impact is long overdue, the UN’s expert on foreign debt, finance and rights has told the Human Rights Council in Geneva.
“There are well-documented lessons about the negative impact of economic measures adopted in times of financial crisis,” said Juan Pablo Bohoslavsky, who presented a full report on the issue to the Council.
“Some of these lessons date back decades, but they remain neglected in decision-making, and so the same mistakes are made over and over again. The instrumental role that human rights can and must play in designing and implementing economic reforms has not been effectively incorporated.”
His report is the first in a series aimed at highlighting the known shortcomings of economic reform policies, including austerity measures, which have severe consequences on human rights, especially in social security, work, health and housing. These measures have also weakened democratic institutions and can lead to insecurity, conflict and violence.
Mr. Bohoslavsky has embarked on a year-long project to develop guiding principles for States and other relevant parties to assess economic reform policies from a human rights perspective, and to learn from past and present mistakes. Preliminary aspects of these principles are outlined in the report presented today, and aim at triggering discussion and broad participation.
“Managing economic and fiscal affairs is a core government function, intimately linked to its human rights obligations,” Mr. Bohoslavsky underlined.
“The extent to which budget cuts undermine human rights depends entirely on who is consulted, what priorities are established and how such cuts are implemented.”
The UN expert added: “Ultimately, the critical questions to ask are whether budget cuts will worsen existing inequalities, and who will be the most affected by those measures.”
The Independent Expert also presented three reports on his 2017 visits to Tunisia, Panama and Switzerland, which all include assessment of the progress made on curbing illicit financial flows.
“Tax justice is a pressing human rights issue,” said Mr. Bohoslavsky. “The more emphasis we place on its international dimensions and human rights implications, and on the need for all countries to engage domestically and internationally in fighting tax evasion, tax fraud and overall opacity, the closer we will come to meaningful changes.”
* List of reports to March 2018 session UN Human Rights Council:

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