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29.5 million ECOWAS citizens in dire need of emergency food, nutrition – Touray

By Our Reporter

Abuja, May 10, 2023 - President of the ECOWAS Commission, Omar Alieu Touray have said that 29.5 million people in the sub-region are in dire need of emergency food and nutritional assistance as at March 2023.

Touray disclosed that 42.5 million people of the sub-region are also at risk of emergency food and nutritional assistance during the lean season between June and August 2023 if urgent actions are not taken.

The President of the Commission made this known on Wednesday while addressing the ECOWAS Parliament on the implementation of the community work programmes during the 2023 First Ordinary Session of the Parliament in Abuja.

Pursuant to Section 9 of the Supplementary Act of the ECOWAS Parliament, and provisions of the Supplementary Act A/SA.1/12/16 of the ECOWAS Commission, the President of the Commission is mandated to address the Parliament twice a year on the implementation of the community work programmes.

Touray said that on food security, the ECOWAS region is facing the persistence of factors that aggravate food and nutrition crises.

“These includes: Civil insecurity, which has resulted in more than 7.5 million internally displaced persons being deprived of their means of existence (housing, productive capital, social network) and access to education and health: it is now extended to the north of Togo and Benin.

“Persistent inflation, which limits households' ability to access sufficient nutritious food.

‘The worsening of the harmful effects of climate change, which is making food systems more fragile.

“As a result, as of 30 March 2023, unfortunately, despite good production, about 29.5 million people needed emergency food and nutritional assistance.

“If appropriate measures are not taken, this figure could rise to 42.5 million people during the lean season between June and August 2023. 32.

“In addition, 107.5 million people are estimated to be food insecure, and could therefore fall into crisis in the event of shocks, notably in Nigeria (64 million), Niger (7.3 million) and Burkina Faso (5.1 million).

“The nutrition crisis also persists in Burkina Faso, Mali, Mauritania, Niger, and Chad, where nearly 16.5 million children under the age of five suffer from acute malnutrition,” Touray said.

According to Touray, ECOWAS, together with all its regional partners (CILSS, UEMOA) and international partners have provided responses to food and nutrition insecurity during 2022 and during the first quarter of 2023.

He said that the responses were given specifically in seven countries (Burkina Faso, Cabo Verde, Mali, Niger, Nigeria, Senegal, and Chad).

Touray said that in addition to the use of stocks from the Regional Food Security Reserve, nearly US$1.1 million, or 66% of the total projected budget of US$1.64 billion of the response plans that were prepared by the Member States in July 2022, has been mobilised.

He however noted that the increasing trend of needs continues as well as the scarcity of resources to finance these response plans.

This situation he further noted is a reminder of the urgency of changing the paradigm in the management of food and nutrition issues by all actors by implementing an intervention approach based on the "Humanitarian-Peace-Development" Nexus in the fragile zone.

Touray said that as part of efforts to address the current food emergency and looming dangers, in April 2022 in Paris, at the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) headquarters, ECOWAS in partnership with the Sahel and West Africa Club, of which it is a contributing member, launched an appeal to the international community to come to the aid of all the countries in the region.

He disclosed that as of 31 March 2023, the Commission was very pleased to note that the commitment of partners has ensured the mobilisation of nearly 4.75 billion euros for emergency and development actions in the 15 Member States.

This Touray disclosed was 1.8 times the initial commitments.

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