A new report published by the United Nations on Friday warns that Northern Nigeria is at risk of falling into a famine due to high levels of food insecurity.
Burkina Faso in West Africa as well as Yemen in Asia and South Sudan in northeastern Africa, are also on the list of countries exposed to face a similar situation.
The UN said that if the coronavirus pandemic continued for the next three to six months, it could greatly threaten the populations’ access to food.
“These countries already had significant acute food insecurity levels in 2020 and are now facing a risk of a further rapid deterioration over the next months,” said UN World Food Programme’s (WFP) Senior Food Security Adviser Claudia Ah Poe.
Aside from the COVID-19 pandemic, the lack of humanitarian access to communities, climate change and conflicts could also contribute towards the famine, the official noted.
According to the Integrated Food Security Phase Classification, famine falls under the “most severe type of hunger” which humanitarians use to gauge food security levels on a scale of one to five.
The WFP Director Margot van der Velden also warned that the world was at a “catastrophic turning point”, with famine now declared at four different countries at the same time, on two different continents.
“When we declare a famine, it means many lives have already been lost. If we wait to find that out for sure, people are already dead,” she said.
WFP also warned that 16 other countries were at risk of facing major food emergencies within the next six months.
In 2019, some 135 million people faced some sort of food crisis or emergency in 55 countries worldwide.