August 4, 2017

IFPRI roundtable: Limit conflict, build resilience to avert famines

Written by Katarlah Taylor

This article originally appeared on IFPRI’s website.

With famine active amid a sustained drought, over 20 percent of households in South Sudan, Nigeria, Yemen, and Somalia face extreme food shortages with limited ability to cope. Death rates in these countries exceed two per 10,000 people per day, and serious malnutrition affects more than 30 percent of the entire population.

“Famine is our collective shame,” said IFPRI Director General Shenggen Fan, addressing the recent IFPRI policy roundtable “Tackling Famine in the Twenty-First Century,” which explored what we need to know to address the current grave humanitarian crisis and do differently to avert future disasters.

“We need to end the wars,” urged David Beasley, Executive Director of the U.N. World Food Programme. The current famine is largely attributed to conflict, he said, and achieving U.N. Sustainable Development Goal 2, ending global hunger by 2030, is not possible unless the problem of conflict is addressed.

“What kinds of shocks can we help people be more resilient to?” asked Daniel Maxwell, the Henry J. Leir Professor in Food Security at Tufts University’s Friedman School of Nutrition. One cannot build resilience to naval blockades and aerial bombardments, Maxwell said, but the lessons learned from fostering environmental and climate resiliency can be applied to conflict and political challenges. The international community must come to grips with the issue of humanitarian access, he said, seeing to it that people in need can get assistance or can find their ways to assistance.

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