75% of African nations face food shortage threat: report
October 11, 2012, 10:43 am TWN
PARIS -- Three-quarters of African countries and several "Arab Spring" nations are at high or extreme risk of a food crisis, according to an analysis published on Wednesday.
In a survey of 197 countries, 59 are most at risk of food insecurity, the British consultancy Maplecroft said.
Thirty-nine of these are African, it said.
Out of the 11 countries that are in the "extreme risk" category, nine are in Africa.
They include Somalia and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DR Congo), which are ranked joint first, Burundi (4th), Chad (5th), Ethiopia (6th), Eritrea (7th), South Sudan (9th), the Comoros (10th) and Sierra Leone (11th).
Haiti (3rd) and Afghanistan (8th) are the other two countries in the extreme risk category.
"Although a food crisis has not emerged yet, there is potential for food-related upheaval across the most vulnerable regions," including sub-Saharan African and Arab states, said Maplecroft's Helen Hodge.
The 48 countries considered to be at "high" risk for food supplies include Yemen (15th), Syria (16th), Pakistan (27th), Papua New Guinea (33rd), North Korea (35th), Iraq (54th) and Libya (58th).
Egypt, ranked 71st of the 197 countries, and Tunisia, 100th, are among medium-risk countries.
Sources of food insecurity range from conflict and instability in the Sahel, DR Congo and eastern Africa to rising prices for corn, caused by the worst U.S. drought in 50 years and declining production in former Soviet countries, Maplecroft said.
The report, called the Food Security Risk Index, is intended for governments, NGOs and businesses to identify countries that could be susceptible to hunger or unrest because of food shortages or price hikes.
"The drivers of the 'Arab Awakening [Spring]' were varied and complex and included long standing public anger at high levels of governmental corruption and oppressive tactics against populations and political opposition," said Maplecroft.
"When these factors combine with food insecurity, sparked by rising global prices, it can create an environment for social unrest and regime change."
Notable changes compared to last year's rankings were North Korea (19th on the 2011 list); Egypt (88th) and Syria (89th).