Burkina Faso is Facing a Hunger Catastrophe

In this Wednesday, May 13, 2020, photo, a child sits on the ground selling onions at a market stall in Tougan, Burkina Faso.

GENEVA – The World Food Program reports Burkina Faso is facing an acute shortage of food, with more than 3.2 million people going hungry in this conflict-ridden country.

There has been a 50 percent rise in the number of people struggling to feed themselves and their families since March. The World Food Program warns the situation is likely to worsen in the current lean season – the period when food stocks are at their lowest ahead of the September harvest. 

WFP reports people in two provinces in the Sahel region, Oudalan and Soum, have reached near starvation level. It says fighting by a myriad of Jihadist and armed groups in the region has forced thousands of people to flee their homes, preventing them from cultivating their crops.   

WFP spokeswoman Elisabeth Byrs says insecurity and conflict are the main drivers of growing hunger in Burkina Faso. 

“Most of those forced to flee are subsistence farmers and livestock herders who have had to abandon their farms, homes, assets, livelihoods. Some farmers were not able to harvest their fields and most of the displaced are no longer able to grow crops. This is dramatic in a country where 80 percent of the population lives from agriculture,” Byrs said.

The United Nations reports a surge of attacks by armed groups over the last two years has prompted more than one million people in Burkina Faso to flee their homes.   

Byrs says WFP is racing against the clock to prevent a hunger catastrophe. She says the agency has continued to scale up its assistance over the past two years to try to keep pace with the growing humanitarian crisis.   

She says WFP is hoping to provide food assistance to 1.2 million people this month, but money is running out. She says the agency urgently needs $51 million to respond to the growing needs. 

She warns WFP will be forced to cut food rations without immediate funding, putting many lives at risk. 

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