Extreme climate change threatens access to food in Haiti: UN report

Agirl pushes down the lid on her her bucket filled with water she collected from the pipe that captures mountain water in Thomazeau, Haiti. Many Caribbean nations rely exclusively on underground water for their needs, a vulnerable source that would be hit hard by climate change effects, said Jason Johnson, vice president of the Caribbean Water and Wastewater Association, a Trinidad-based nonprofit group.
Associated Press / Dieu Nalio Chery

A new report by the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has identified Haiti among 39 countries where conflicts and extreme climate change threaten access to food.

The report says that unrelenting conflict and rapid climate change is “continuing to reshape agriculture across the world,” and contributing to major food shortages across the 39 countries, “which continue to rely on help from the United Nations to meet their food needs.”

The FAO’s Crop Prospects and Food Situation report, released on Thursday, says that 31 countries in Africa, seven in Asia, and Haiti in the Caribbean, remain in need of external food assistance.

According to the report, civil conflicts and population displacement are the key drivers of food insecurity in East Africa and the Near East, whereas dry-weather conditions have led to reduced cereal outputs in Southern Africa.

The report says civil conflicts, often coupled with extreme climate events, continue to hamper food access to vulnerable populations in Central African Republic, Nigeria, South Sudan, Syria, Yemen, among others.

Ongoing conflict has left 17.8 million Yemenis in need of humanitarian assistance, and around two million in the Central African Republic, which is also fueled by reduced food production and poorly functioning markets, the report says.

It says the global importance of cereal crops to the human diet “cannot be over stated,” according to FAO.

It says cereals are hugely adaptable, especially in regions that rely mainly on plant sources for protein and calories.

The report says weather conditions have impacted cereal production in the Latin America and the Caribbean area.

“Dry weather in South America has lowered 2018 cereal outputs relative to last year’s record,” the report says, noting maize in particular.

In Central America and the Caribbean, it says: “unfavorable rains affected 2018 maize production, except in Mexico.”

The report notes that cereal production in the 52 Low-Income Food-Deficit Countries (LIFDCs) is projected at around 490 million metric tonnes; about 19 million above the past five-year average.

The report says the full list of the 39 countries currently in need are: Afghanistan, Burkina Faso, Burundi, Cabo Verde, Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, Congo, Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Djibouti, Eritrea, Eswatini (former Swaziland) and Ethiopia.

The others are: Guinea, Haiti, Iraq, Kenya, Lesotho, Liberia, Libya, Madagascar, Malawi, Mali, Mauritania, Mozambique, Myanmar, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Senegal, Sierra Leone, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan, Syria, Uganda, Yemen and Zimbabwe.

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