By Sharon Atieno

While the second goal of the United Nation’s Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) entails ending hunger, achieving food security and improving food nutrition, and promoting sustainable agriculture; food insecurity continues to be a major challenge in Africa.

A recently released report titled, 2019 Global Report on Food Crises: Joint Analysis for Better Decisions, estimates that, 27 million people in Eastern Africa faced acute food insecurity in 2018 mainly as a result of climatic shocks, conflict and economic instability.

The report-released by the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD) and the Food Security Information Network (FSIN) – reveals that of the acutely food insecure people, 11.9 million were climate-affected, 8.8 million conflict-affected and 6.2 million were affected by climatic shocks.

Of the seven IGAD regions which were affected, the main driver in Ethiopia, Kenya, Uganda and Djibouti was climate shocks while South Sudan and Somalia were affected by both climate shocks and persistent insecurity. The economic crisis in the Sudan led to escalating food prices, sharp currency depreciation and fuel shortages which contributed to acute food insecurity.

“The worst food crises in the region in 2018 in terms of numbers of acutely food-insecure people were Ethiopia (8.1 million), the Sudan (6.2 million) and South Sudan (6.1 million),” the report notes.

The report further notes that the number of people in need of urgent action because of food insecurity in the seven affected countries of the IGAD region increased from 24 million in 2016 to 27 million in 2017.

“Although the situation improved slightly between 2017 and 2018 in Ethiopia, Kenya, Somalia and Uganda, thanks to more favourable weather and partial recovery for pastoralists and agro pastoralists, very high numbers of acutely food-insecure people persisted in South Sudan, while the Sudan faced a significantly deteriorating economic crisis,” the report reads.

Looking at an updated 2019 Outlook, the report finds that the same drivers will continue to be responsible for food security outcomes across the IGAD region in 2019, with Ethiopia, the Sudan and South Sudan likely to remain among the world’s most severe food crises in terms of number of people affected.

“Ending conflicts, empowering women, nourishing and educating children, improving rural infrastructure and reinforcing social safety nets are essential building blocks of resilience and stability,” says the report.

With reference to data gaps in some of the countries, the report recommends the use of technology to capture data on vulnerable populations which is vital in ensuring a targeted and integrated response for multiple partners working in development and humanitarian spheres.

The report further urges for the need of additional investments in resilience building activities to provide households with a buffer against future shocks and stop the cycle of recurring food crises.

“Investments in conflict prevention and sustaining peace will save lives and livelihoods, reduce structural vulnerabilities and address the root causes of hunger,” the report finds.