Hunger, Climate, and Conflict: The Origins of Migrations

On the 4th of May, INCIPE organized a working breakfast titled Hunger, Climate, and Conflict: The Origins of Migrations that was run by Jennifer Nyberg, Head of the Madrid Office of the World Food Programme (WFP).

The World Food Programme is the largest humanitarian agency in the fight against hunger. The WFP responds to humanitarian emergencies, provided assistance to development, and promotes the peaceful resolution of conflicts. WFP’s is especially relevant if we consider that one in nine people is starving and that most of starvation happens in Africa. The meeting emphasized the mutually reinforcing relationship between conflict and hunger, which are cause and consequence of forced migrations. It was also highlighted the fact that hunger in the world has grown for the first time in a decade affecting 815 million people (11% of the world population), most of whom are in Africa and Asia. Syria, Yemen, Iraq, South Sudan, and the Sahel countries are the worst touched by starvation. In order to alleviate famines and undernourishment, the WFP counts with 500 subregional offices, 14 000 workers, centers specialized in nutrition and innovation, and an important logistics base in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria.

According to their own records, the WFP takes care of 80 million people a day, and they have developed 75 000 school lunch programs involving a total of more than 16 million children. The WFP has an annual budget of 27 billion USD (7 billion of which coming from private donations) to finance its activities. The meeting exposed the motives driving migrations: undernourishment, low economic growth, and the existence of an existing diaspora in the host country. It was also explained during the breakfast that most migrants do not leave their continent in their journey and search opportunities in other African or Asian countries.

As stressed during the gathering, the main problem stemming from the Sahel region in the next months is that a large part of its 500 million inhabitants is in an extremely vulnerable situation after the low rainfall ruined this year’s crops. The WFP expects that five million people will need food aid in during the next four years, which will further worsen food insecurity and provoke new migrations.

In order to prevent these type of situations form happening again in the future, the WFP suggests five types of solution to attack the root of the problem: To solve conflicts politically; to keep in mind the relation between climate change, starvation, and conflict; to promote education; to aid vulnerable groups; and to empower women in the countries with greater risk of famines.

Silvia Prada

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