Almost two months ago, Digital Journal reported that four regions in Africa were singled out by the U.N. General-Secretary in a $4.4 billion appeal to avert catastrophic starvation and death. Populations in Somalia, northeast Nigeria, South Sudan, and Yemen have all been hit hard due to a prolonged drought, failed crops and internal violence.
One day before the worldwide climate march, officials with the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the World Food Programme (WFP) called on the international community again, to step up action to prevent further deaths in drought-hit regions in Africa.
Of the $4.4 billion needed by the international agencies, countries around the world have ponied up a paltry $984 million, according to UN humanitarian agency spokesman Jens Laerke two weeks ago.
The growing food insecurity is driving people from their homes, leaving families with no livelihoods and agriculture or food production, creating situations where there is a loss of the ability to help themselves. “The crisis .. is rooted in decades of neglect, lack of rural development and the impact of climate change,” FAO Director-General Jose Graziano da Silva said in a statement.
“Many people have already died,” FAO Director-General José Graziano da Silva said at a briefing on the sidelines of FAO’s Council – the executive arm of FAO’s governing body. “Peace is, of course, the key to ending these crises. But even in times of conflict, there is much we can do to fight hunger and avoid famine… I visited Maiduguri in northeastern Nigeria and saw myself how powerful agricultural support can be in a humanitarian crisis,” he said.
And while internal conflict is a common thread within the four countries, it is important that we remember that for the majority of the populations, conflict is not behind the starvation and death they are now facing. Combined, a total of 30 million people are grappling to find enough food to eat every day.
While hundreds of thousands of people around the world marched on Saturday, a humanitarian crisis unlike anything we have seen since World War II is unfolding right under our noses. If we want world leaders to acknowledge that climate change is happening, all we need to do is have them look to the African continent.
Climate change is happening, and along with it, conflicts that take advantage of the lack of food, water, and other resources. We are learning that climate change increases the difficulty of trying to deal with conflicts because so many environmental factors interact with social, political and economic factors.