UN food agency launches campaign to combat hunger in Africa

16 December 2002

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) today launched the Africa Hunger Alert campaign aimed at drawing attention to the unprecedented hunger crisis on the continent.

The campaign represents a global response to the dire humanitarian situation now confronting Africa, where 38 million people currently face starvation.

The hunger crisis in Africa has grown particularly acute in the wake of two major, simultaneous emergencies in the past year, WFP said. In southern Africa, almost 15 million people are threatened in Malawi, Zimbabwe, Zambia, Lesotho, Swaziland and Mozambique. In Ethiopia and Eritrea, meanwhile, an additional 12 million to 16 million are at risk, where millions more face starvation in Sudan, Angola, the Great Lakes region and West Africa.

“To avert mass starvation, we need a massive response by governments, private charities, non-governmental organisations, citizens’ groups and individuals, ordinary citizens,” WFP Deputy Executive Director Jean-Jacque Graisse said in a statement issued from the agency’s headquarters in Rome.

The catastrophic conditions are primarily the result of drought, the HIV/AIDS epidemic and, in some countries, political turmoil and failed economic policies. Of particular concern is the new phenomenon of shifting weather patterns causing floods and droughts, which over the past two years have brought the highest number of weather related disasters in a decade.

The WFP campaign is one component of a growing global focus on hunger issues in Africa. “Ordinary citizens have a role to play,” Mr. Graisse said. “It’s critical they join the campaign and urge their governments to address the needs of the hungry now before it is too late.”


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