Zim at “extreme risk” of hunger

children_povertyHARARE Zimbabwe is ranked among the top 10 countries in danger of hunger this year, according to a new reported published by British risk analysis and rating firm Maplecroft last week.

Maplecrofts Food Security Risk Index (FSRI) for 2010 placed Zimbabwe along with eight other African nations in the extreme risk category for countries likely to have insufficient food to feed their populations until the next harvest.

War-ravaged Afghanistan is the only non-African country listed in the top 10 of food-insecure nations.

Afghanistan (1) is rated as least secure in food supplies, whilst the African nations of the Democratic Republic of Congo (2), Burundi (3), Eritrea (4), Sudan (5), Ethiopia (6), Angola (7), Liberia (8), Chad (9) and Zimbabwe (10) are also considered extreme risk,

The United Nations says more than 1.68 million Zimbabweans will need food and agricultural assistance next year despite an improvement in food security in the 2009/10 farming season.

The UN figure of the food-insecure is about 30 percent higher than an initial projection of 1.3 million made by the US-funded Famine Early Warning System Network (FEWSNET).

The world body estimates that 133 000 tonnes of food assistance will be needed to feed the hungry until the next harvest in March 2011.

Zimbabwe has only 1.66 million tonnes of cereals available against a total needs forecast of 2.09 million tonnes in the 2010/11 marketing year that runs from April this year to next March.

The Maplecroft report said African nations made up 36 of the 50 nations most at risk in the index.

Africa is reported to be particularly vulnerable to food insecurity because of the frequency of extreme weather events, high rates of poverty and failing infrastructures, including road and telecommunications networks, which decrease both production and distribution capacity.

The risk analysis firm says conflict is also a major driver of food insecurity and the ongoing violence in Afghanistan and DR Congo are largely responsible for the precarious food security situation in both countries.

The FSRI is compiled annually on the basis of 12 factors drawn up in collaboration with the UNs World Food Programme.

The criteria include cereal production, Gross Domestic Product per capita, risk of extreme weather events, quality of agricultural and distribution infrastructure, conflict and effectiveness of the government.

Finland is the country considered least at risk, while the other Scandinavian countries Sweden, Denmark and Norway follow closely behind.

Other low risk countries include Canada, the United States, Germany, the United Kingdom and France.

Post published in: Analysis

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