HUNGER

World Bank, IMF call for urgent action on global food security crisis

Lives of 345 million people in 82 countries are at risk of hunger.

In Summary

•Around 25 countries have reacted to higher food prices by adopting export restrictions affecting over eight per cent of global food trade.

•Lives of 345 million people in 82 countries are at risk of hunger.

Hunger-stricken of Kang'irisai await relief food in Turkana.
DROUGHT EFFECTS: Hunger-stricken of Kang'irisai await relief food in Turkana.
Image: FILE

Many countries worldwide are facing the threat of growing food insecurity underscoring the need for an urgent global action, the World Bank has said.

In a joint statement with the International Monetary Fund, and other global agencies, World Bank Group President David Malpass said there is dire need to provide immediate support to the vulnerable.

"The Covid-19 pandemic, interruption in international supply chains, and the war in Ukraine have severely disrupted food, fuel, and fertilizer markets, which are interlinked," the statement read.

By June the number of acute food insecure people, whose access to food in the short term had been restricted to the point that their lives and livelihoods were at risk, increased to 345 million in 82 countries according to WFP.

Around 25 countries have reacted to higher food prices by adopting export restrictions affecting over eight per cent of global food trade.

In addition, complicating the food supply response is the doubling of fertilizer prices over the last twelve months, reflecting record-high costs of inputs such as natural gas.

According to the agencies, global stocks, which steadily increased over the last decade, are yet to be released in order to bring prices down.

"All this is happening at a time when fiscal space for government action is already severely constrained following the Covid-19 pandemic," World Trade Organization Director General Ngozi Okonjo-Iweala said.

To avoiding further setbacks to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals the agencies have recommended actions in four key areas including facilitation of trade and international supply of food.

It was agreed that finding a diplomatic solution to evacuate the grains and fertilizers currently blocked in Ukraine, will help address availability and affordability of food supplies.

Removing export restrictions and adopting inspections and licensing processes that are more flexible will also help minimize supply disruptions and lower prices in several countries.

To boost production, member states have been asked to take action to encourage farmers and fishers to boost sustainable food production – in both developing and developed countries - and improve the supply chains that connect them to the world’s eight billion consumers is needed.

This requires affordable fertilizers, seeds, and other inputs through the private sector as the primary actor in these markets.

Providing working capital for competitive producers is also a key priority.

To increase investment in climate-resilient agriculture, governments have been asked to provide support to adaptation, smallholder farms, food systems and climate-smart technologies that will ensure steady production in the years to come.