Famine at the door

September 8, 2022

In astatement on Monday, Martin Griffiths, head of the UN’s Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs,  said that “famine was at the door” and was likely to occur in south-central Somalia between October and December this year. 

But the alarm is not just for Somalia. Many countries are suffering from extremely harsh climate conditions driven by progressive soil degradation that make droughts more frequent and severe. These are further exacerbated by the rise in food and energy prices. Even if the world food prices fall down for the fifth month in a row in August, inflation is still increasing, and high energy prices will affect food production in several ways.  

In June, the UN SG called for urgent action to avoid a hurricane of hunger, but despite pledges by the donors and Development Banks, we know the solutions they propose are not real solutions.  

Providing life-saving assistance is crucial, but we need to revert the conditions that make crises more frequent and severe by addressing the root causes. Industrial farming has caused deforestation, biodiversity loss, and soil degradation, creating the conditions for extreme droughts and floods.  

A finance facility aimed at supporting the purchase of external inputs that are so detrimental to the environment might provide a short-term solution for the upcoming planting season but will not create the basis for a longstanding solution.  

That said, international donors are pouring billions into the wrong solution. If these funds are instead directed to support agroecological farming, smallholders and their preferential territorial markets, local food systems, public procurement schemes like school-feeding programs, and community seed houses, they can actually promote a sustainable way out of the crisis.  

Let’s learn from the success stories of small-scale farmers, indigenous peoples, and rural women that, through agroecological farming, are able to build resilience, protect ecosystems and provide food for households.