Acute food insecurity is expected to worsen significantly in 18 hunger “hotspots,” including Nigeria, according to a recent United Nations report.

The report highlights an urgent need for assistance to prevent famine in Gaza and Sudan, and to address worsening hunger crises in Haiti, Mali, and South Sudan.

The report emphasises the ongoing effects of El Niño and the impending risk of La Niña, which could trigger extreme climate events that disrupt lives and livelihoods. It states:

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“Since the previous edition of the Hunger Hotspots report (October 2023), the Central African Republic, Lebanon, Mozambique, Myanmar, Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Zambia have joined Burkina Faso, Ethiopia, Malawi, Somalia, and Zimbabwe in the list of hunger hotspots, where acute food insecurity is likely to deteriorate further during the outlook period.”

Numerous hotspots are grappling with escalating hunger crises due to the compounded effects of conflict, climate extremes, and economic shocks, which are pushing vulnerable households into deeper food crises.

The report also warns that 2023 could be the first year since 2010 to see a decrease in humanitarian funding compared to the previous year, despite it being the second-highest level of funding ever for humanitarian assistance.

FAO Director-General QU Dongyu stated: “The daunting prospects highlighted in this report should serve as a wake-up call to all of us. We need to spearhead the shift from responding to crises after they occur to more proactive anticipatory approaches, prevention, and resilience building to help vulnerable communities cope with upcoming shocks.

“Acting ahead of crises can save lives, reduce food shortages, and protect livelihoods at a much lower cost than a not timely humanitarian response.”

WFP Executive Director Cindy McCain added: “Once a famine is declared, it is too late; many people will have already starved to death. In Somalia in 2011, half of a quarter of a million people who died of hunger perished before famine was officially declared.

“The world failed to heed the warnings at the time, and the repercussions were catastrophic. We must learn the lesson and act now to stop these hotspots from igniting a firestorm of hunger.

“We have proven solutions to stop these crises in their tracks, but we need the resources and the political will to implement them at scale before more lives are lost.”

The report further notes that the ongoing conflict in Palestine is likely to exacerbate the already severe levels of acute hunger, with starvation and death occurring alongside an unprecedented death toll, widespread destruction, and the displacement of nearly the entire population of the Gaza Strip.

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