MPs on the International Development Committee have published a new report that said that nearly 50 million people in 43 countries are on the edge of famine and that food shortages could, without immediate action, lead to an “explosion of child deaths” in the Horn of Africa.
The report said the government’s main long term policy document on this subject — its ‘Development Strategy’, published in May — did not set out how it will provide food assistance to prevent this catastrophe, nor how the UK plans to contribute to averting such a crisis in the future.
It said that in addition to the Russian invasion of Ukraine and the blockade of Ukraine’s Black Sea ports other factors including price inflation are having a major impact. It revealed that world food prices increased by 28% between 2020 and 2021 and a further 29% between May 2021 and May 2022.
The report also highlighted the issue of extreme weather, such as a recent heat wave in India as well as other conflicts that destroyed local markets and restricted delivery of international assistance (for example in Afghanistan, Ethiopia and Yemen).
The committee has said that the Government must publish a comprehensive strategy to address food insecurity as well as increase humanitarian funding. It also called on the Government to promote sustainable agriculture by increasing support to development programmes in middle and lower income countries.
The committee also called for the Government to work with international partners to avert famine as well as support Ukraine to deliver its food produce to internal and external markets.
The chair of the International Development Committee, Sarah Champion MP, added: “We have not seen disaster on this scale since the Second World War. The Government is not responsible for all of this crisis, but as one of the richer nations it is certainly failing to do enough about it.
“We need a comprehensive, workable strategy — not just reactions day by day. We have the resources and the expertise in this country to mount a meaningful plan but it appears our government is fiddling while the world burns.”