THE International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement (ICRC) has scalped efforts to avert to devastating effects of food security in Africa where 146 million people1 are suffering from acute food insecurity (IPC 3 and above) and require urgent humanitarian assistance.
By Staff Reporter
In a statement, Patrick Youssef, the Regional Director, Africa ICRC and Mohammed Omer Mukhier Regional Director, Africa IFRC said, “At a time of intense global humanitarian need and competing demands, Sub-Saharan Africa is experiencing one of the most alarming food crises in decades. 146 million people1 are suffering from
acute food insecurity (IPC 3 and above) and require urgent humanitarian assistance. Hunger is oneof the most undignified sufferings of humanity and has severe repercussions on African communities who face multiple shocks, compromising their lives, livelihoods, and prospects.”
Driven by a complex interplay of insecurity and armed conflict, extreme weather events, climate variability, and negative macroeconomic conditions, the ICSR said this crisis is distinct in its magnitude and geographic scope. As such, it requires an exceptional mobilization but demands at the same time a massive effort by all concerned institutions and states to address the systemic failures that underpin food insecurity in Africa.
“In the past five years, those experiencing acute food insecurity have increased by 83 percent, an estimated 54 million people2, with women and children being disproportionately affected. Their vulnerabilities are compounded by poverty, inequality, marginalization, and recurrent shocks, which have fundamentally altered lives. In Somalia alone, the number of children under the age of five suffering from Severe Acute Malnutrition with medical complications who were admitted to the Stabilization Centers has increased by almost 50% compared to the same period last year3.
“We, the International Red Cross and Red Crescent Movement, are extremely concerned by the devastating impact of this crisis on people’s lives and dignity. Since the start of the crisis, African National Societies and their Partners have reached almost 3.5 million people through life-saving interventions. However, food insecurity trends continue to deteriorate indicating that even more will be at risk during the coming months and years.”
Scaling-up our Collective Response
In the face of this unfolding tragedy, a massive, coordinated scale-up of our action is urgent and critical. This recognizes that the Movement will not be in a position to address all needs and will complement efforts of Governments and other humanitarian actors.
The Movement, which includes the ICRC as well as African National Societies and Partner National Societies who are members of the IFRC, is providing life-saving humanitarian assistance to those affected while contributing to building longer-term recovery and resilience. Our interventions are principled and coordinated with those of local authorities when possible.
As priority, we are scaling up our response to address urgent humanitarian needs emphasizing integrated, cash-based assistance alongside health and nutrition, water and sanitation. Nearly 60% of the Movement’s interventions are cash-based. At the core of our intervention lies the centrality of the National Societies and their 1.6 million volunteers, who provide unique access to vulnerable populations.
As in other coordinated emergency operations, such as the joint Movement response to the eruption of Mount Nyiragongo in DRC and the on-going food insecurity operation in Niger, the international components of the Movement are building on each other’s comparative advantages to support the response. Movement coordination mechanisms exist and are being strengthened to guide this and support operations through streamlined logistics, security, joint advocacy and communications, and coordinated fundraising.
The ICRC is scaling its operations in areas affected by armed conflict and violence alongside Host and Partner National Societies. Being aware of security risks, its neutral, impartial, and independent humanitarian approach, and its dialogue with parties to armed conflict enable it to reach communities in areas where few or no other humanitarian actors are present. Equally, the IFRC is scaling up its operations through a Regional Emergency Appeal to support most affected communities through 23 African National Societies. The IFRC and its Membership have and continue to respond holistically, ensuring that life-saving interventions are linked to recovery and resilience.
The response is part of the Federation wide Pan-African Zero Hunger Initiative, which also strengthens National Societies’ capacities to ensure they are well-placed to serve the most vulnerable communities over time.
We will work together to significantly scale-up life-saving actions, dignifying the living conditions of millions severely affected by the multiple shocks, which have led to this extraordinary crisis. Our immediate and long-term operational response will be accompanied by humanitarian diplomacy efforts, including in addressing the underlying systemic issues, placing community voices at the core.
We will continue to strengthen and mobilize the unique capacity of African National Societies to ensure access and acceptance for last-mile humanitarian assistance. Responding to this food insecurity crisis, both international components of the Movement—ICRC and IFRC—are present in ten countries—Burkina Faso, Cameroon, Ethiopia, Kenya, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, Nigeria, Somalia, and Sudan—most of which are impacted by both conflict and climactic shocks.