Millions face food crisis

LONDON – As Sierra Leone recovers from the deadly effects of Ebola, more than half the population face food shortages, and many will not cope if further disasters such as drought or floods strike, UN food agencies said yesterday.

Food shortages in most of the West African are caused by problems that predate the Ebola outbreak, the World Food Programme (WFP) and Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) said.

Some 3.5 million people do not have enough safe and nutritious food to eat, the agencies said in a report published yesterday.

Of that number, around 600,000 people face severe food shortages and are not prepared for sudden shocks such as food price increases, floods or droughts.

The report said the number of people “severely” affected by a lack of food had increased by 60 per cent since 2010.

The Ebola outbreak — now officially over — worsened food shortages in some districts, notably Kailahun and Kenema, but in most of the country the problem is chronic, the report said.

“The results confirm that drivers of food insecurity are low agricultural productivity, poverty and a lack of resilience,” Nyabenyi Tipo, FAO representative in Sierra Leone, said in a statement. Poor roads, the difficulties farmers face in reaching markets, gender inequality, and a lack of alternative means of generating an income, also play a part, Mr Tipo added.

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