ADDIS ABABA – The World Bank announced on Wednesday that it has approved a $2.3 billion program to help countries in Eastern and Southern Africa increase the resilience of the region’s food systems and ability to tackle growing food insecurity.
Food system shocks brought on by extreme weather, pest and disease outbreaks, political and market instability, and conflict are becoming more frequent and severe, putting more people at risk of food insecurity. The war in Ukraine is further exacerbating these effects by disrupting the global food, fuel, and fertilizer markets.
As a result, The World Bank said an estimated 66.4 million people in the region are projected to experience food stress or a food crisis, emergency, or famine by July 2022.
To address these risks, the bank said the $2.3 billion program will enhance inter-agency food crisis response strategies – including strengthening early warning systems and rapid response planning, emergency support to producers, emergency trade measures, and food reserves.
The program will also include a Contingent Emergency Response Component to provide agile, rapid funding, according to the bank.
“Ensuring regional coordination in addressing the challenges posed by climate change, market volatility, and the need for food policy reform constitute key priorities,” said Hafez Ghanem, World Bank Vice President for Eastern and Southern Africa
The Bank said the program, in the first phase of the project, will target “Ethiopia, where up to 22.7 million people are food insecure due to the most severe drought the country has ever faced, and Madagascar, where 7.8 million people are facing acute food insecurity because of historic droughts in the South of the country.”
This phase will also support the Intergovernmental Authority on Development (IGAD), which will strengthen information and data sharing, and the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa (CCARDESA).
With a total financing package of $788.10 million, the initial phase of the program is expected to benefit 2.3 million people, said the world bank.
The program, officials of the bank said, will also boost medium- and long-term efforts for resilient agricultural production, sustainable development of natural resources, expanded market access, and emphasize a greater focus on food systems resilience in policymaking.
“While climate-induced shocks to the food system used to occur once every 10 years on average, they are now occurring every 2.5 years,” Boutheina Guermazi, World Bank Director of Regional Integration Africa.