Ukraine and the impact on West Africa: food and international aid will be lacking

by Francesco Petrelli*

The impact of the conflict on Ukraine on the increase in hunger in the world, could be devastating, in particular in the regions of Africa which are already suffering from the climate crisis and the wars, which are too often forgotten.

FAO forecasts paint a picture of urgency: already in the coming months we could see an increase in more than 20% of the prices food globally. A burden that is becoming unbearable for populations facing very high levels of food insecurity for years.

This is the case ofWest Africa which is already facing the most serious emergency in the last 10 years, with 27 million people in a situation of severe food insecurity, which could reach 38 million in the next 3 months alone, with more than 6.3 million children from under 5 affected by acute malnutrition.

In the countries of the sahel – between Burkina Faso, Niger, Chad, Mali and Nigeria – the population has already been hit by an exponential rise in prices over the last 5 years, thanks to the lethal mixture of Drought increasingly long and floods that have reduced harvests by a third since last year.

In this region of the world to the usual perfect storm, due to war, pandemic, forced migration to survive, there is today a significant drop in the availability of cereals in six West African countries, which until now imported 30%and in some cases more than the 50%, quantities needed, directly from Russia and Ukraine.

Another likely effect of the Ukrainian crisis is the sharp drop in international aid to Africa. Indeed, many donors have already announced that they may cut funding to accommodate Ukrainian refugees within their national borders. A country like Denmark, for example, could halve aid to Burkina Faso and Mali by 2022.

It will therefore be essential, in such a context, that governments decide to allocate resources Additional for the emergency of Ukrainian refugees, compared to those already included in the national budgets for international cooperation and development aid.

Only Italy recently allocated 110 million through the Italian Cooperation Agency (AICS) to Ukraine, through the Ukrainian government’s direct budget support method. resources in the availability of cooperation and official development aid, which on the contrary should be reinstatedalso to help deal with the dramatic worsening food crisis looming in many developing countries.

We refuse to choose between Ukrainian women and children fleeing war or those in Chad or Mali facing chronic acute hunger. For this reason, additional resources are needed on the Ukraine crisis for old new humanitarian emergencies, or those that may be aggravated by war.

From here the appeal relaunched by Oxfamon the occasion of the Euro-African summit on the crisis in the Sahel, for the allocation of another 4 billion dollars to deal with the emergency in 2022, as requested by the United Nations.

Without immediate action, countless lives will be lost in this forgotten part of the world in the months to come.

* Oxfam Italia Food Security Policy Advisor

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