The UN World Food Programme (WFP) on Friday called for joint efforts from all stakeholders to improve food security in Eastern Africa.
Michael Dunford, WFP Eastern Africa regional director, said the region is home to four percent of the global population but has 20 percent of the total number of acutely food insecure people in the world.
“There is a huge potential to improve food security across the region but this will require all stakeholders working closely together and adopting new ways of working if we are to build a future without hunger in Eastern Africa,” Dunford said in a statement issued in Nairobi to mark the World Food Day.
WFP, which last week won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts to fight hunger also called for global action to improve the systems that produce and distribute the food we eat, so that they can better withstand shocks including the COVID-19 pandemic that can spark alarming surges in the level of hunger in the world.
The number of acutely hungry people in the world could increase by more than 100 million this year, according to WFP estimates.
“Without massive improvements in the food supply chain, many fragile nations are set to become increasingly vulnerable to financial volatility and climate shocks,” WFP said.
For particularly fragile countries, a slide towards famine is a real risk, it warned, noting that in many countries, the socio-economic effects of the pandemic — particularly loss of earnings and remittances — are heightening existing threats linked to conflict and climate change.
The UN food agency said it has unparalleled experience in buying and distributing food as it yearly increases the amount of food it procures locally from smallholder farmers, providing training in post-harvest storage and in how to access markets.
“The aim is to build dynamic food systems which contribute to community-based agricultural growth and the strengthening of national economies,” WFP said.
It said the need for concerted action to improve agricultural production while enhancing global supply chains and ending food waste is reflected in this year’s World Food Day theme: “Grow, Nourish, Sustain. Together”.