The Food and Agriculture Organisation has restated its call for urgent support to North East Nigeria, South Sudan, Somalia and Yemen, which have been ravaged by years of violent conflicts. The organisation’s Director-General, José da Silva, emphasised this at the opening of the 165th session of FAO Council in Rome on Monday.
He said starvation loomed for 20 million people in the four affected areas. Da Silva cautioned that famine, which was threatening those countries as a result of drought and ongoing conflict, would leave many dead and rip apart societies. He added: “If nothing is done soon, 20 million people will starve to death over the next six months in South Sudan, Somalia, north-eastern Nigeria and Yemen.
“Famine does not just kill people, it contributes to social instability and perpetuates a cycle of poverty and aids dependency that endures for decades.”
The FAO boss advised farming families and rural communities in the Lake Chad Basin, where people struggled with the impacts of climate change and related droughts. According to him, there is the need for public investment and opportunities for youth in the North East Nigeria.
“If we do not support these people, they will have no option other than to join local militias or movements of distress migration,” the Director-General said.
He challenged the FAO Council to approve FAO’s Programme of Work and Budget for the years 2018 and 2019. He noted that the budget prioritised areas where FAO could deliver ‘the greatest impact to member Countries to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.
“This includes climate change mitigation and adaptation, sustainable agriculture production, water scarcity management, and building the resilience of poor family farmers. Food and agriculture are central to the Sustainable Development Goals and FAO’s work is projected to contribute to the achievement of 15 of the 17 Goals. This full alignment has been possible because of the centrality of food and agriculture to the sustainable development agenda 2030. Council will also discuss a new scale of assessed contributions, which are the annual payments made by member countries to FAO.”
Comprised of 49 elected countries, the FAO Council convenes between sessions to provide advice and oversight related to programmes and the budget. As part of the week-long Council, members will be briefed on the extent of the conditions in the countries facing famine and in the case of South Sudan where famine has already been declared in parts of the country.