On the final day of the World Summit on
Food Security in Rome, UN humanitarian aid agencies addressed the food crisis
in East Africa and the Horn. Millions of
people there are in need of emergency food assistance.
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Africa and the Horn are currently are currently the most critical area in the world that we are
monitoring and reporting on," says Henry Josserand, chief of the Food and
Agriculture Organization's Global Information and Early Warning Service.
hardest hit countries include Sudan – especially the south – Ethiopia, Eritrea,
Somalia, Kenya, Djibouti, Uganda and Tanzania.
are over 20 million people in this part of the world, who are currently
requiring emergency assistance because of drought...displacement of populations
due to insecurity and conflict and because of high food prices," Josserand
Production down, food needs up
region of the world normally produces about 32 million tons of cereals per
year. We expect that this year the
region…will produce much less," he says.
in the best of times, says Josserand, this region imports between six and seven
million tons of cereals per year and receives 1.5 million tons of food aid per
food, he says, can be a "big financial drain for countries, which are already
estimate that the import bill for Africa, for example, is on the order of $10.5
billion a year. And for East Africa and
the Horn this year we are looking at between three and four billion dollars
worth of imports because of the drought…crop failure and because of the lack of
production because people are displaced," he says.
The high cost of food
2007 and 2008, international food prices soared, reaching record highs and
sparking riots in many countries. While
prices have fallen in many countries around the world, not so in sub-Saharan
fact, it is in Africa and in East Africa that they have remained the
highest. Today," he says, "maize prices
in East Africa are still twice as high as they were in 2007."
agencies also say poverty and the global economic downturn are at the heart of
the food crisis, including a sharp drop in remittances.
Some groups are criticizing the
summit, saying participants failed to take strong action to reduce hunger
around the world. ActionAid, for
example, says there were no major breakthroughs in new ideas or funding.
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