why are many African countries on the brink of famine?

Since Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the price of raw materials has exploded and shortages are felt in some African countries. explanation.

The war in Ukraine has a major economic impact and disrupts the international market. While the eurozone economy should continue to grow robustly in 2022 and inflation is currently rising sharply, mainly due to energy prices, some countries are already facing much more serious problems. United Nations Secretary-General Antonio Guterres warned that this war “could create a hurricane of famine”. He calls for a collapse of the world food system of which Africa would be the first victim.

Many African countries dependent on Ukrainian and Russian wheat imports, which are already experiencing deep economic and social crises, are suffering the side effects of the war provoked by Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Many of them import at least a third of their wheat from these two countries and given the price of wheat, currently 400 euros per tonne, the grain is becoming unaffordable for the poorest countries.

A catastrophic situation in Tunisia

Tunisia is particularly affected by this scourge and shortages are already being felt. Already suffering from an economic crisis and an inflation rate of more than 6%, this country is very dependent on imports because it produces less than half of its national needs. Tunisia imports nearly 50% of its wheat consumption needs and also imports maize, barley and soybeans, essential for animal feed. In 2021, the country’s grain imports will represent 3.7 million tons, with 47.7% of wheat imported coming from Ukraine and 3.97% from Russia. As for maize, several orders from Ukraine have been canceled and Tunisia is struggling to find alternative markets.

The country has been struggling with shortages of semolina, flour and vegetable oil for several weeks. State-subsidized products that are increasingly rare in stores and often picked up by the black market in light of increased demand.

Quoted by Médiapart, Ferid Belhaj, World Bank vice president for the North Africa and Middle East regions, said Tunisia could be one of the “worst-hit” economies, especially at the smallholder level. sole source of family income.

As the world’s largest wheat importer, Egypt is also concerned about the economic impact of this war. 85% of Egypt’s wheat imports come from Ukraine and Russia and to date the country has 4 months of domestic consumption of wheat stock. At present, the Egyptians pay less than the actual price for their grain because the state subsidizes much of the local price, but this subsidy weighs heavily on the country’s economy. If prices continue to rise, Egypt will soon be unable to buy.

In response to the risks of breakage or decline in imports from Ukraine and Russia, Algeria announced last weekend the export ban of several foods whose raw material is imported by the country.

45 countries threatened

In countries such as Yemen or South Sudan, which have been devastated by war, famine also threatens the inhabitants. If it is the civil wars that are primarily responsible for this famine, then five times more people in Yemen are at risk of starvation this year as a result of the supply problems caused by the war in Ukraine, according to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations. United Nations (FAO), UNICEF Children’s Fund and the World Food Program (WFP). More than 40% of the country’s grain imports come from Ukraine and Russia.

According to the UN chief, as many as “45 African countries and least developed countries import at least a third of their wheat from Ukraine or Russia and 18 of these countries import at least 50%. This includes countries like Burkina Faso, Egypt, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Lebanon , Libya, Somalia, Sudan and Yemen.”

Europe must “take on its nurturing mission”

The situation is all the more worrying because with the arrival of spring, the sowing season should start soon in Ukraine and there is no indication that it could take place, all three weeks before the start of Ramadan. “Bullets and bombs in Ukraine could bring the global food crisis to an unprecedented level,” summarizes the World Food Program (WFP).

To provide an alternative to these countries dependent on Russian and Ukrainian wheat, Agriculture Minister Julien Denormandie is calling for more production at the European level, signaling that the Old Continent must “take on its nourishing mission”. “Europe must produce more, it benefits from some of the most fertile land in the world, Europe must have the capacity to produce more in order to be able to support other countries that have nothing to do with the conflict, but see themselves hit in their possibility of access to food, especially on the African continent and in particular in North Africa”.

VIDEO – Tunisia bears the brunt of the consequences of the war in Ukraine