Tuesday, May 17, 2022

An Imminent African Food Crisis

  The war in Ukraine is having a drastic impact on Africa. Prices for wheat, gas and gasoline are at record highs. Crisis regions could see things get worse than they already are.

In Kenya, about one-third of imported wheat comes from Russia and Ukraine. The price increase on the world market is also being felt by the Kenafric wholesale bakery in Nairobi, which produces bread for supermarkets.

"The situation is worrying, not only because of the price, but also because of availability," said Kenafric's manager, Keval Shah. 

Most Kenyans are increasingly turning to their savings and loans to meet the rising cost of living.

Teresa Anderson, the international climate policy coordinator at the nongovernmental organization Actionaid, told DW that many African economies are still reeling from the pandemic, climate change, humanitarian emergencies, or political and economic unrest. The effects of the Ukraine war have exacerbated the situation, she said.

"In Zimbabwe, the price of gasoline has more than tripled, as has the price of cooking gas," Anderson said. "The price of noodles has more than doubled." Anderson said many countries were already in a supply crisis. "But, if nothing changes, we could be facing a famine of unimagined proportions," she said. "The situation is particularly extreme in the Horn of Africa, where 20 million people are already suffering severe hunger because of the ongoing drought," Anderson said.

In East Africa, prices have skyrocketed because of livestock deaths and crop yields far below the long-term average, said Petroc Wilton, the WFP's spokesman in Somalia.

Wilton said the lack of wheat supplies from Ukraine had aggravated the food crisis.

A humanitarian disaster is brewing in Somalia, according to the WFP. About 6 million people are affected by acute food insecurity, including 1.4 million children. If aid agencies do not receive additional funding, there could be a famine within months.

In West Africa, the security situation is also hampering food supplies. For example, farmers could not cultivate their fields because of attacks by the terrorist organization Boko Haram.

Assalama Dawalack Sidi, regional director of the international charity organization Oxfam in Niger, explained action is urgently needed to avert a humanitarian catastrophe.

"This is an alarm signal for the world," Sidi said. "We are witnessing 27 million people in West Africa being affected by the worst food crisis in the past decade," he said, adding that the number could rise to 38 million people if nothing is done.

Yet wheat shouldn't have to be in short supply as there are significant reserves.

 "China has enough reserves to support poorer countries in Africa with food supplies," Hendrik Mahlkow, of the Kiel Institute for the World Economy, told DW.

African food prices soaring amid Ukraine war | Africa | DW | 16.05.2022

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