Brace for worse famine, warns Unep

Published on 18/05/2009

By Peter Orengo

The United Nations Environmental Programme (Unep) has warned of another serious food crisis in two years.

It says the food crisis could be the worst unless countries invest in environment conservation strategies.

The report, The Environmental Food Crisis, launched at the 17th session of the UN Commission on Sustainable Development last week, provides new costs on how environmental degradation might impact food production.

The report also highlights new and promising paths.

“A surge in hunger may be avoided through smart green technology, rainwater harvesting and micro-finance, but the situation is urgent,” the report warns.

It adds: “Delivering food security to an additional one billion people in Africa will become more challenging over the next four decades, unless more intelligent management of natural resources and emerging opportunities are brought to bear.”

Kenya, like other countries in sub-Saharan Africa, is yet to recover from a severe drought that cost the lives of people and livestock.

The Government declared the crisis a national disaster with more than 10 million Kenyans affected.

UN Under Secretary-General and Unep Executive Director Achim Steiner said: “The economic models and management regimes of the 20th century are unlikely to serve humanity well on a planet of six billion, rising to over nine billion by 2050. This is particularly true with respect to agriculture and especially valid in Africa.”

Part of solution

He added: “Reversing environmental degradation and investing in our ecological infrastructure such as forests, soils and water bodies is part of the Green Economy solution.”

Pests, land degradation, erosion, drought and climate change have already caused agricultural yields to fall in some cases by up to 50 per cent, according to the report.

It also says Africa’s population is set to rise from 770 million to 1.75 billion by 2050, and is likely to dwarf the recent food crisis, which plunged more than 100 million into poverty and hunger in just two years.



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