Hundreds of millions of people are caught in the epicenter of intersecting crises that are damaging the health and hopes of a global generation of girls and boys. Decades of progress is going into reverse, and insecurity, unrest and uncertainty are on the rise in nation after nation.
In politics, humanitarian aid, and the social sciences, hunger is defined as a condition in which a person does not have the physical or financial capability to eat sufficient food to meet basic nutritional needs for a sustained period. The threat of starvation now faces 45 million people in 43 nations around the globe. Millions are living on the cusp of famine and need food urgently if they are to survive. In Africa alone the numbers are acute as over 200 million people are facing severe food insecurity.
Many of the countries in Africa dealing with severe food insecurity are also dealing with conflicts and are affected by climate change. Two years of conflict in Ethiopia’s Tigray has left many facing famine like conditions and created hunger crises within the neighboring countries. Insurgencies in Burkina Faso, Mali, Niger and Nigeria have also deepened the food insecurity in West Africa.
However, global food prices and fuel are skyrocketing, prices of wheat of which Russia and Ukraine being the lead producers have retreated from all-time highs hit last month and prices remain higher since April. Corn and oil prices have also escalated.
2. Security and Conflicts
Conflicts continue to dominate the news especially in the Sahel regions where militias and jihadists spread violence while ineffective administration in Burkina Faso and Mali fail to counter the spread including across their borders south. Globally there are now over 82 million people living in refugee and displacement camps away from home creating unnecessary tensions among host communities, forcing families to make dangerous journeys and opening up the vulnerable especially women and children to trafficking gangs.
2022 sees the quickening of the moves towards a new pattern of French deployment where the Sahel armies in the G5 Sahel military structure are relied upon for frontline action with the French retreating to provide more of a backup and special forces role through logistics, air support and intelligence. Ethiopia also continues to present a major source of instability for the Horn of Africa region and beyond. Efforts by the African Union and others have made little or no progress at all; this means that a prolonged civil war will have a significant impact on the economic attractiveness of this region.
Other conflict hotspots are Libya, and Somalia, spreading jihadi insurgency in eatern Congo, Northern Nigeria and Northern Mozambique not forgetting the anglophone crisis in western Cameroon.
3. Climate change
The climate summit hosted by Egypt gave Africa a stronger voice in calling for funds from developed nations to unlock investments in smart-climate infrastructure to help create green jobs for the continent. Rising sea levels, changing seasons and the threat of new disease outbreaks are affecting both rural and urban communities and increasing tensions as water supplies shrink, food prices spike and people abandon their homes to find security elsewhere.
The spread of the various has laid bare different African countries to the inequalities of the spread of the vaccine among its people. These inequalities create the conditions in which new variants will arise, demonstrating why no one is safe until everyone is. With more than five million people killed by COVID, hospitals and health systems have been overwhelmed. Lockdown measures have decimated livelihoods for the poorest, especially in countries with no social welfare.
Travel and tourism were to partially bounce back as the year progressed, particularly to regions and countries where vaccination rates were highest, but they also depend on COVID-19 policies in Europe and Asia. By the end of 2021, most African states had only fully vaccinated five per cent of their populations and in 2022 only a small number are likely to reach 40 per cent or more.
Hundreds of millions or children have also suffered months locked out of schools, their schooling set back by many months. Around the world, mental health issues have spiked as populations have grappled with isolation, job losses and the deaths of friends and families… and no one knows when the pandemic will be over.
5. Child Abuse
In the face of multiple conflicts in Africa, at least 1000 children suffer from abuse in every country and almost 800 of these are either physical abuse or sexual abuse. Starling new evidence shows that violence is against children is on the rise especially in war torn countries. The pandemic has seen child marriage rates increase by the largest amount in 25 years. Vigorous action must be taken to tackle the unacceptable scourge of violence against children in Africa.