from EMEKA OKONKWO in Abuja, Nigeria
ABUJA –THE coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic could increase the number of people at risk of food insecurity and malnutrition from 17 million to 50 million people in West Africa this year.
The crisis is expected to peak between June and August.
Conflict, insecurity and the lean season are set to worsen food insecurity.
Humanitarian organisations gave the warning as the Ramadan fasting period began this week, coinciding with the rising threat of COVID-19.
In the main cities and rural areas of the Economic Community of West African States (ECOWAS),many communities are today facing difficulties in accessing food markets, with prices increasing quickly and many basic commodities becoming less available.
These are the consequences of lockdown measures, confinement or curfews and border closures imposed by governments against COVID-19 and insecurity.
The virus outbreak, combined with insecurity, is exacerbating the threat of market stability.
Pastoralist communities can no longer ensure the livelihood of livestock, made impossible by the closure of regions or borders, which risks increasing conflicts between herders and farmers.
Eight regional and international organisations have called on authorities and stakeholders to adopt measures to protect the most vulnerable and ensure food production, so that hunger and malnutrition are no longer a threat.
They called on governments to control prices, ensure the supply of food and the transport of goods across borders
“In this global crisis, regional and international solidarity is also required and the support of donors to West African states, farmers’ organisations and civil society is urgently needed, to help them face this crisis in a fragile regional context,” they stated.
– CAJ News