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One person dies of hunger every 48 seconds in East Africa

One person dies of hunger every 48 seconds in East Africa

Tens of millions of people are trapped in a hunger crisis in East Africa, with one dying every 48 seconds, as the worst drought in decades has been exacerbated by inflation in food prices, it said Monday. the international anti-poverty coalition Oxfam.

Hanna Saarinen, Oxfam’s food policy lead, said “a monstrous amount of wealth is being captured at the top of our global food supply chains, while rising food prices contribute to catastrophe.”

That catastrophe “is leaving millions of people unable to feed themselves and their families. World leaders are sleepwalking towards a humanitarian disaster,” Saarinen deplored.

In Ethiopia the people caught up in the hunger crisis may be up to “a staggering 44%” of its 115 million people, according to Oxfam.

Agencies of the United Nations system have indicated that currently, in Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, 16.7 million people face acute food problems, and this is projected to increase to 20 million by September.

East Africans spend up to 60% of their income on food, and the region is overly dependent on imported staples.

While many people in rich countries are struggling with rising consumer prices, their counterparts in East African countries are facing hunger and destitution.

“A monstrous amount of wealth is being captured at the top of our global food supply chains, while rising food prices contribute to catastrophe” – Hanna Saarinen.

For example, food and drink account for 54% of the consumer price index in Ethiopia, compared to just 11.6% in the UK.

In Somalia, maize prices were, in May 2022 and after 12 months of inflation, six times higher (78%) than world prices (12.9%).

In some regions, spending on the minimum food basket has shot up more than 160% compared to last year. The cost of a kilo of sorghum, a staple food, was more than 240 per cent higher than the five-year average.

In Ethiopia, food inflation has soared 43.9% since 2021. Cereal prices rose 70% annually through May, more than double the global average.

In Kenya, the price of maize flour, its main staple food, doubled in seven months and rose 50% between June and July 2022 alone. Rising food and energy prices will increase poverty by 2, 5%, pushing some 1.4 million Kenyans into extreme poverty.

In South Sudan, cereal prices in May tripled their levels from a year earlier, while the price of bread has doubled since 2021. The average price of cereals is 30% above the five-year average.

For example, in Bundunbuto village in Puntland (the far east of Africa), families’ purchasing power has halved compared to two months ago, and they can buy 12 kilos of rice and sugar per month instead of the 25 kilos they acquired until April.

In Somalia, a “famine risk” was recently declared, and almost half of the population (more than seven million people) is facing acute hunger, of which 213,000 are at very serious risk.

Oxfam highlights that, by contrast, in this context, billionaires in the food sector have increased their collective wealth by 382 billion dollars in two years, according to data from its report “Profiting from Pain” corresponding to the period from March 2020 to March 2022.

“Less than two weeks of your wealth earnings would be more than enough to fund the entire $6.2 billion UN humanitarian appeal for East Africa,” Oxfam said.

He then indicated that barely 16% of the resources requested by humanitarian agencies have been obtained.

Saarinen said that “we need to re-imagine a new global food system to truly end hunger, one that works for everyone.”

“This fundamentally broken global food system, which is exploitative, extractive, poorly regulated and largely in the hands of big agribusiness, is becoming unsustainable for people and the planet, pushing millions in East Africa and across the world to starvation,” criticized Saarinen.

Governments “can and should mobilize sufficient resources to prevent human suffering. A good option would be to tax the mega-rich who have seen their wealth skyrocket to record levels over the last two years,” he opined.

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