Nearly 22 million people are facing acute food insecurity in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC), a UN agency said on Thursday.
“The number of people facing acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels has dramatically increased – from 15.6 million in 2019 to 21.8 million,” read a report by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO).
It said the situation was most dire in the provinces of North and South Kivu, lturi, and Kasai Central.
Conflicts disrupting livelihoods, the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic and related containment measures, economic decline linked to currency depreciation and drop in GDP growth, and natural hazards are the main drivers of food insecurity in the DRC, according to the report.
“These factors are exacerbating humanitarian needs and the country is now the world’s largest food crisis,” the FAO said.
“Movement restrictions linked to the COVID-19 pandemic have significantly impacted the food systems and livelihoods of smallholders and vulnerable populations, including in terms of accessing agricultural tools, seeds, markets and credit.”
The report said that internally displaced persons and people returning to their areas of origin face particular difficulty in accessing “productive assets” and often “find themselves without the means to resume their livelihood activities.”
The UN agency warned that “any further disruption of food supply chains will worsen human suffering and hamper efforts to tackle and reduce food insecurity” in the country.
It said it was crucial for the DRC to provide “livelihood support to vulnerable populations … in order for them to produce their own food and income, and increase their self-sufficiency.”