Famine has already been declared in parts of South Sudan, where 90 000 people are affected, and more than 5.5 million people will not have any reliable source of food by July.
Current levels of food insecurity in the four countries reflect continued underinvestment in agriculture and livelihoods within the wider humanitarian and development fields. Conflict and drought are forcing people to abandon their homes and their lands. As agricultural seasons are repeatedly missed and livelihoods abandoned, the humanitarian caseload builds and the number of people on the brink of famine rises. With approximately 80 percent of the aff ected populations relying on agriculture for their livelihoods, we must invest now in pulling people back from the brink. Famine oft en starts in rural areas and must be prevented in rural areas – agriculture cannot be an aft erthought.
FAO is on the ground in these countries delivering emergency livelihood assistance to kick-start food production. This assistance includes providing inputs like crop and vegetable seeds, and fishing and dairy kits – which are crucial for providing highly nutritious food. In parts of South Sudan, fishing kits are the only lifeline to food for many families, while in Yemen, dairy kits are helping to provide life-saving milk for children.
To avert a humanitarian catastrophe in the four countries over the coming months, livelihood support needs to be scaled up and income opportunities improved for aff ected families. Supporting agriculture now is not only investing in food production today, but food security tomorrow.