Why the war in Ukraine exacerbates the food crisis in Africa – War between Ukraine and Russia

Africa, already battered by the effects of covid-19 and several major climate shocks, is facing a major new food crisis. This was already common on the island of Madagascar, where it had not rained for three years. The Horn of Africa, and in particular Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia, are also facing hunger crises that threaten 20 million people.

UN warns of ‘hunger storm’

On June 2, Chad officially declared a “food emergency”. Due to the lack of water and pastures, livestock die and people suffer. Worse, the situation is getting worse.

In four years, the number of people suffering from malnutrition in West Africa has risen sharply. It has nearly quadrupled to nearly 38 million people, warns the Food Crisis Prevention Network (RPCA).

UN Secretary-General António Guterres speaks of a coming “hurricane of hunger”. Populations facing humanitarian crises are at the very bottom of the scale. “It’s more of a divide between rich and poor than anything else,” describes Pierre Micheletti, president of Action contre la Faim, an NGO. And add: “Despite the crisis, there are stocks, but all sorts of tensions are driving prices up. »

45% increase in wheat prices in Africa

Several factors came together. First, too much dependence on imported agricultural inputs. Of the 55 countries on the continent, 33 import 90% or more of their wheat consumption.

According to the African Development Bank (AfDB), the price of wheat in Africa has increased by more than 45% since the start of the war. The cost of fertilizers, the main producer of which is Russia, has tripled. Africa is facing a shortage of about two million tons despite having 60% of the world’s arable land.

“The rise in gas prices also leads to an increase in the price of nitrogen fertilizers,” summarizes Pier Micheletti. “There is a risk of a shock wave that will cause a drop in purchasing power and, as a result, a reduction in agricultural production.” Thus, a vicious cycle is emerging that could make Africa less self-sufficient and even more dependent on humanitarian aid.

The fall in the grain harvest in Niger, Mali, Burkina Faso …

And the resources of NGOs are far from unlimited. Like in Mali, for example, where Denmark decided to turn off the tap by cutting its funding by 40% in order to redirect its funds to Ukraine. Added to this is the budgetary priority given to arms in Sahelian countries facing armed insurgencies such as Burkina Faso, Mali and Niger.

In Niger, the 2021 grain harvest fell by almost 40%, in Mali by 15%, and in Burkina Faso by 10% due to population displacement. In countries that are among the world’s poorest, their combined population will also increase from 2 million people a year today to 3 million people a year by 2040.

“Africa wants a ceasefire” in Ukraine

Meanwhile, states like Senegal are trying to mediate somehow. “I told Vladimir Putin that Africa, which is between a rock and a hard place, wants a ceasefire. Returning from Sochi, where he met with his Russian counterpart on Friday, June 3, Maki Sall, President of Senegal and the African Union (AU), issued a motion to “unblock stockpiles of grains and fertilizers, the blocking of which particularly affects African countries.” countries”.

Although it is an island of stability in a tormented region, Dakar is trying to influence world affairs so as not to foment discontent among its population, which is also facing rising prices.

“Everything increases even the fish, which we have in abundance,” lamented Pape Diop, the former mayor of Dakar and chairman of the National Assembly. “Senegal’s problem is the lack of processing plants to sustain crops and fisheries. There is not enough political will to transform the country,” adds Maki Sall, an opponent of the president and an old political guru.

2.4 billion Africans to be fed in 2050

In neighboring Mauritania, which owes money to China, the situation is the same. Nouakchott is still completely dependent on Beijing for fish processing and export. Lack of factories, lack of security, problems with good governance and rising prices: Africa’s food crisis is linked to many factors.

By 2050, the population of the continent could double, reaching 2.4 billion people. A real demographic bomb, therefore, while the average age on the continent is only 19 years old.

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