The 2017 report of the Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in the Near East and North Africa (NENA), published by FAO has established a baseline to measure future progress in eradicating hunger in NENA.
The report noted that the conflicts sweeping through these countries were casting a dark shadow on NENA’s region ability to achieve Sustainable Development Goal (SDG) of Zero Hunger by 2030.
The affected countries according to NENA’s report include:Algeria, Bahrain, Egypt, Iran (Islamic Republic of), Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Sudan, the Syrian Arab Republic, Tunisia, the United Arab Emirates, Yemen and Palestine.
The report brings into sharp focus the issue of conflict, which is the major driver of food insecurity in the NENA’s region. Today, conflicts have divided the region into two subregions. In the conflict countries, food insecurity and malnutrition are significantly higher than in countries not in conflict.
NENA countries directly impacted by conflict includes Yemen, Iraq, Sudan, Syrian Arab Republic, and Libya, It was reported that 27.2 percent of all people in these countries were chronically hungry – or undernourished – during the 2014-16 period.
The report stated, “In a region largely made up of developing, middle-income violence in an unfortunate few have seen the proportion of chronically hungry people in conflict zones increase drastically comparable with the world’s poorest countries, which is exercising a strong drag effect on hunger reduction in the full NENA areas”.
Speaking at the report’s launch in Cairo, Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO) Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative, Abdessalam Ould Ahmed, highlighted the pivotal importance of building resilience and sustaining peace in the Near East and North Africa region.
He pointed out that countries engulfed in conflicts undermine FAO’s aim of tackling its deepest concerns of malnutrition, hunger, and food insecurity. He however stated that it is “Only through improved cooperation and solidarity with the affected region that can be able to end conflicts and violence and get back to development”.