Africa’s struggle with Drought, War, internal conflict are inflaming the biggest Food Crisis

Deuteronomy 28:1,15“If you fully obey the Lord your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the Lord your God will set you high above all the nations on earth. 2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the Lord your God

15 However, if you do not obey the Lord your God and do not carefully follow all his commands and decrees I am giving you today, all these curses will come on you and overtake you:”

Important Takeaways:

  • Africa’s food crisis is the biggest yet – five reasons why
  • Across Africa, from east to west, people are experiencing a food crisis that is bigger and more complex than the continent has ever seen, say diplomats and humanitarian workers.
  • East Africa has missed four consecutive rainy seasons, the worst drought in 40 years, Michael Dunford, the WFP’s East Africa director said.
  • Some 22 million people across Ethiopia, Kenya and Somalia face high levels of acute food insecurity due solely to the drought, a number projected to rise to up to 26 million by February if the rains again fail,
  • Conflict has long been a driver of hunger. War forces civilians from their homes, livelihoods, farms and food sources. It also makes it dangerous to deliver assistance.
  • The number of displaced people in Africa has tripled over the past decade to a record 36 million in 2022, according to U.N. data. That represents almost half the displaced people in the world. Most were displaced internally within their own countries by conflict.
  • Russia’s invasion of Ukraine in February, which Moscow calls a “special military operation,” added to Africa’s problems.
  • The crisis distracted wealthy governments’ humanitarian agencies for the first half of this year, said a senior Western government official
  • COVID-19 left Africa facing the strongest economic headwinds in years, according to the International Monetary Fund (IMF).
  • After years of borrowing, countries are struggling to service their debts. According to the IMF
  • African governments have done little to prevent food crises from recurring.

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Food crisis becomes more complex: Head Nurse at FAO questions “Maybe the whole world is hungry and donors are bankrupt”

Revelations 18:23:’For the merchants were the great men of the earth; for by thy sorceries were all nations deceived.’

Important Takeaways:

  • Africa’s food crisis is the biggest yet – five reasons why
  • Across Africa, from east to west, people are experiencing a food crisis that is bigger and more complex than the continent has ever seen, say diplomats and humanitarian workers.
  • One in five Africans – a record 278 million people – were already facing hunger in 2021, according to data from the U.N. Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO). It says the situation has worsened.
  • Half a million children’s lives are at risk from a looming famine in Somalia, according to the United Nations
  • “Sometimes mothers bring us dead children,” said Farhia Moahmud Jama, head nurse at the pediatric emergency unit. “And they don’t know they’re dead.”
  • “Maybe the whole world is hungry and donors are bankrupt, I don’t know,” she said. “But we’re calling out for help, and we do not see relief.”

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UN security council warns weeks away from global food crisis

Rev 6:6 NAS “And I heard something like a voice in the center of the four living creatures saying, “A quart of wheat for a denarius, and three quarts of barley for a denarius; and do not damage the oil and the wine.”

Important Takeaways:

  • Zelenskyy’s global food crisis prediction may be 10 weeks away, UN official says: ‘Seismic’
  • “Russia has blocked almost all ports and all, so to speak, maritime opportunities to export food – our grain, barley, sunflower and more. A lot of things,” Zelenskyy said Saturday. “There will be a crisis in the world. The second crisis after the energy one, which was provoked by Russia.”
  • “Now it will create a food crisis if we do not unblock the routes for Ukraine, do not help the countries of Africa, Europe, Asia, which need these food products,”
  • The world has only 10 weeks’ worth of wheat left to deal with the crisis, according to Sara Menker, CEO of Gro Intelligence.
  • “This is seismic,” Menker said during a special meeting of the U.N. Security Council. “Even if the war were to end tomorrow, our food security problem isn’t going away anytime soon without concerted action.”

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Poland’s push-back policy leaves migrants facing an uncertain future as winter looms

By Joanna Plucinska and Kacper Pempel

Near SIEMIANOWKA, Poland (Reuters) – Somali migrant Abdi Fitah’s bid to cross into Poland from Belarus ended with him barefoot and freezing after he lost his shoes in a river and wandered for days in the woods along the border.

The 23-year-old is one of thousands of people, including children, from the Middle East, Africa and Afghanistan who have tried to enter Poland from Belarus in recent weeks, with charities saying they face harrowing conditions on the border.

Jakub Sieczko, a medical doctor and coordinator of the Medycy na Granicy (Medics on the Border) aid group, said he feared there would be more deaths as temperatures drop.

“There are more and more people who are hungry and dehydrated…The conditions are getting worse,” Sieczko told Reuters, adding that many migrants are from warm countries and unprepared for the cold.

Ibrahim, who said he left Somalia 15 days ago, thought he was having a heart attack while walking through the woods with a group of fellow migrants, before receiving medical help for hypothermia at the border.

“The conditions are very cold, (we’re) not wearing shoes,” he said, explaining how he lost his shoes in the river. “The leg is a big problem. I’m not wearing (enough) clothes…(or) shoes.”

He crossed the border with six other Somalis. Three of them ended up in an ambulance due to their health problems, which included a sprained ankle and symptoms of hypothermia.

Four were driven off in a border guard truck. It’s unclear if they went to a detention center or were pushed back to the border.

The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has said Poland is in breach of international law in its efforts to force migrants back into Belarus instead of offering them asylum.

Poland says it is respecting its international obligations while trying to stem the flow of migrants who, it says, often do not want asylum in Poland but rather in western Europe.

The European Union accuses Belarus of orchestrating the flow to put pressure on the bloc in retaliation for sanctions slapped on Minsk over human rights abuses.

MORE AND MORE MIGRANTS

Polish authorities say more than 15,000 attempts to cross the border have been made since early August, mostly by Iraqi, Afghan and Syrian nationals. The attempts have become more frequent and now exceed 500 a day.

Under EU rules, migrants should in principle apply for asylum in the first country they enter, but the bloc is planning reforms to ensure asylum obligations are more evenly spread.

Franek Sterczewski, a Polish parliamentary deputy with leading opposition group Civic Coalition, said more migrants were being turned back by border guards into the woods.

“(The Somali migrants) were sent back to the border seven times,” he said. “They’ve been wandering the forest for weeks, the temperature at night is around zero degrees, it’s raining and it’s very cold. Pushing them back will put their health and life at risk.”

(Reporting by Joanna Plucinska and Kacper Pempel; Writing by Michael Kahn; Editing by Mike Harrison)

Moderna aims to deliver 1 billion more vaccine doses to low-income countries in 2022

(Reuters) -Moderna Inc said on Friday it aims to deliver one billion doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to low-income countries in 2022, in addition to the doses it has already committed to the global vaccine-sharing platform COVAX.

These vaccines will be part of the 2-3 billion doses the company had forecast to produce next year.

“To date, more than 250 million people have been vaccinated globally with the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine. However, we recognize that access to vaccines continues to be a challenge in many parts of the world,” Chief Executive Officer Stéphane Bancel said in a letter posted on the company’s website.

Moderna on Thursday announced plans to invest up to $500 million to build a factory in Africa to make up to 500 million doses of mRNA vaccines each year, including its COVID-19 shot.

The company had committed in May to supply up to 500 million doses of its COVID-19 vaccine to the COVAX facility from the fourth quarter of 2021 through 2022.

“We are committed to doubling our manufacturing and expanding supply even further until our vaccine is no longer needed in low-income countries,” Bancel said.

(Reporting by Manojna Maddipatla in Bengaluru; Editing by Saumyadeb Chakrabarty and Vinay Dwivedi)

WHO backs rollout of malaria vaccine for African children

By Maggie Fick and Aaron Ross

NAIROBI (Reuters) -The World Health Organization (WHO) said on Wednesday the only approved vaccine against malaria should be widely given to African children, potentially marking a major advance against a disease that kills hundreds of thousands of people annually.

The WHO recommendation is for RTS,S – or Mosquirix – a vaccine developed by British drugmaker GlaxoSmithKline.

Since 2019, 2.3 million doses of Mosquirix have been administered to infants in Ghana, Kenya and Malawi in a large-scale pilot program coordinated by the WHO. The majority of those whom the disease kills are aged under five.

That program followed a decade of clinical trials in seven African countries.

“This is a vaccine developed in Africa by African scientists and we’re very proud,” said WHO director-general Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus.

“Using this vaccine in addition to existing tools to prevent malaria could save tens of thousands of young lives each year,” he added, referring to anti-malaria measures like bed nets and spraying.

Malaria is far more deadly than COVID-19 in Africa. It killed 386,000 Africans in 2019, according to a WHO estimate, compared with 212,000 confirmed deaths from COVID-19 in the past 18 months.

The WHO says 94% of malaria cases and deaths occur in Africa, a continent of 1.3 billion people. The preventable disease is caused by parasites transmitted to people by the bites of infected mosquitoes; symptoms include fever, vomiting and fatigue.

The vaccine’s effectiveness at preventing severe cases of malaria in children is only around 30%, but it is the only approved vaccine. The European Union’s drugs regulator approved it in 2015, saying its benefits outweighed the risks.

“This is how we fight malaria, layering imperfect tools on top of each other,” said Ashley Birkett, who leads global malaria vaccine work at Path, a non-profit global health organization that has funded the development of the vaccine with GSK and the three-country pilot.

Another vaccine against malaria, developed by scientists at Britain’s University of Oxford and called R21/Matrix-M, showed up to 77% efficacy in a year-long study involving 450 children in Burkina Faso, researchers said in April, but it is still in the trial stages.

GSK also welcomed the WHO recommendation.

“This long-awaited landmark decision can reinvigorate the fight against malaria in the region at a time when progress on malaria control has stalled,” Thomas Breuer, Chief Global Health Officer, said in a statement.

GSK shares held steady in New York following the announcement, which came after the close of trading in its London-listed shares.

FUNDING CHALLENGE

The recommendation was jointly announced in Geneva by the WHO’s top advisory bodies for malaria and immunization, the Malaria Policy Advisory Group and the Strategic Advisory Group of Experts on Immunization.

Experts said the challenge now would be mobilizing financing for production and distribution of the vaccine to some of the world’s poorest countries.

GSK has to date committed to produce 15 million doses of Mosquirix annually, in addition to the 10 million doses donated to the WHO pilot programs, up to 2028 at a cost of production plus no more than 5% margin.

A global market study led by the WHO this year projected demand for a malaria vaccine would be 50 to 110 million doses per year by 2030 if it is deployed in areas with moderate to high transmission of the disease.

The GAVI vaccine alliance, a global public-private partnership, will consider in December whether and how to finance the vaccination program.

“As we’ve seen from the COVID vaccine, where there is political will, there is funding available to ensure that vaccines are scaled to the level they are needed,” said Kate O’Brien, Director of WHO’s Department of Immunization, Vaccines and Biologicals.

A source familiar with planning for the vaccine’s development said the price per dose was not yet set, but would be confirmed after GAVI’s funding decision and once there is a clear sense of demand for the vaccine.

The WHO’s decision had personal meaning for Dr. Rose Jalong’o, a vaccinology specialist at the Kenyan health ministry.

“I suffered from malaria as a child and during my internship, and during my clinical years I attended to children in hospital because of severe malaria who needed blood transfusion and unfortunately some of them died.”

“It’s a disease I have grown up with and, seeing all this in my lifetime, it’s an exciting time.”

(Reporting by Maggie Fick in Nairobi and Aaron Ross in Dakar; Editing by Katharine Houreld, Mark Potter and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)

Biden revives Trump’s Africa business initiative; focus on energy, health

By Doyinsola Oladipo and Andrea Shalal

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -The Biden administration on Tuesday announced a new push to expand business ties between U.S. companies and Africa, with a focus on clean energy, health, agribusiness and transportation infrastructure on the continent.

U.S. industry executives welcomed the interest, but said dollar flows will lag until the administration wraps up its lengthy review of Trump administration trade measures and sets a clear policy on investments in liquefied natural gas.

Dana Banks, senior director for Africa at the White House National Security Council, told a conference the administration planned to “re-imagine” and revive Prosper Africa, an initiative launched by former-President Donald Trump in 2018, as the “centerpiece of U.S. economic and commercial engagement with Africa.”

Travis Adkins, deputy assistant administrator for Africa at the U.S. Agency for International Development (AID), added: “We’re looking at the ways in which we (can) foster two-way trade, looking at mutually beneficial partnerships that work together to mobilize investment, create jobs, and … shared opportunities on both sides of the Atlantic.”

President Joe Biden, who requested nearly $80 million for the initiative in his budget proposal in May, aims to focus it on women and equity, with an expanded role for small- and medium-sized businesses, Banks said.

The administration’s goal was to “reinvigorate Prosper Africa as the centerpiece of U.S. economic and commercial engagement with Africa,” she said.

“This is an area that is a priority both at home and abroad,” Banks told Reuters ahead of the conference, adding that African countries were eager to expand their cooperation with the United States.

U.S. business executives warn the United States is in danger of being overtaken by China and Europe, which are already investing and signing trade agreements across the continent.

“We can’t wait another year to devise an Africa policy; we need to be bold in our thinking,” said Scott Eisner, president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce’s U.S.-Africa Business Center.

He said many companies had started to eye investments in Kenya given the Trump administration’s talks with Nairobi on a bilateral free trade agreement, but that those plans were on ice until the policy review was completed.

The U.S. Trade Representative’s office had no immediate comment on the status of the review.

Another hurdle is uncertainty about the administration’s policy on LNG projects.

Nigeria and other countries are eager to secure U.S. investment in such plans, but are waiting to see whether the administration will back LNG investments even as it seeks to halve U.S. fossil-fuel emissions.

“We’ve committed as an institution to have over 50% of our investments focused on activities that combat climate change,” said Kyeh Kim, a senior official at Millennium Challenge Corporation, an independent U.S. foreign aid agency, said.

(Reporting by Andrea Shalal and Doyinsola Oladipo; additional reporting by Valerie Volcovici; editing by Tim Ahmann, Gerry Doyle and Dan Grebler)

Delta COVID variant becoming globally dominant, WHO official says

GENEVA (Reuters) – The Delta variant of COVID-19, first identified in India, is becoming the globally dominant variant of the disease, the World Health Organization’s chief scientist said on Friday.

Soumya Swaminathan also voiced disappointment in the failure of CureVac’s vaccine candidate in a trial to meet the WHO’s efficacy standard, in particular as highly transmissible variants boost the need for new, effective shots.

Britain has reported a steep rise in infections with the Delta variant, while Germany’s top public health official predicted it would rapidly become the dominant variant there despite rising vaccination rates.

The Kremlin blamed a surge in COVID-19 cases on reluctance to have vaccinations and “nihilism” after record new infections in Moscow, mostly with the new Delta variant, fanned fears of a third wave.

“The Delta variant is well on its way to becoming the dominant variant globally because of its increased transmissibility,” Swaminathan told a news conference.

Coronavirus variants were cited by CureVac when the German company this week reported its vaccine proved only 47% effective at preventing disease, shy of the WHO’s 50% benchmark.

The company said it documented at least 13 variants circulating within its study population.

Given that similar mRNA vaccines from Pfizer and BioNTech and Moderna posted efficacy rates topping 90%, Swaminathan said the world had been expecting more from CureVac’s candidate.

“Just because it’s another mRNA vaccine, we cannot presume all mRNA vaccines are the same, because each one has a slightly different technology,” Swaminathan said, adding the surprise failure underscored the value of robust clinical trials to test new products.

WHO officials said Africa remains an area of concern, even though it accounts for only around 5% of new global infections and 2% of deaths.

New cases in Namibia, Sierra Leone, Liberia and Rwanda have doubled in the last week, WHO emergencies program head Mike Ryan said, while vaccine access remains miniscule.

“It’s a trajectory that is very, very concerning,” Ryan said. “The brutal reality is that in an era of multiple variants, with increased transmissibility, we have left vast swathes of the population, the vulnerable population of Africa, unprotected by vaccines.”

(Reporting by John Miller, writing by Giles Elgood, Editing by Catherine Evans and Michael Shields)

India’s halt to vaccine exports ‘very problematic’ for Africa

By Giulia Paravicini

ADDIS ABABA (Reuters) – An extended halt to exports of COVID-19 vaccines from India, where authorities are battling a wave of domestic infections, risks derailing vaccination efforts already underway in Africa, one of the continent’s top health officials said on Tuesday.

India stopped vaccine exports a month ago and, according to a Reuters report earlier on Tuesday, is now unlikely to resume major exports before October, dealing a major setback to the global COVAX initiative on which many poor countries rely.

Africa has lagged far behind other regions due to supply issues and meagre financial resources but had planned to vaccinate 30-35% of its population by the end of the year and 60% within the next two to three years.

“This is very problematic as it means unpredictability of our vaccination programs and a serious risk of not achieving our stated target… on time,” the director of the Africa Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, John Nkengasong, wrote to Reuters.

Those targets primarily relied on supplies from the global COVAX vaccine-sharing facility, which has depended heavily on AstraZeneca shots produced by the Serum Institute of India (SII).

“Given India’s huge challenges, it will be impossible to expect anything soon,” Nkengasong said.

There have been at least 4,742,000 reported infections and 126,000 reported deaths caused by the novel coronavirus in Africa so far, according to a Reuters tally.

And while the pandemic’s impact has been less acute than in the United States, Europe and now India, Africa’s largely unvaccinated population of over 1 billion remains vulnerable, experts say.

COVAX had already begun distributing millions of doses of the two-shot AstraZeneca vaccine to countries across Africa. But those initial shipments have now been largely exhausted, with around 80% having been administered as a first dose, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

Most countries using COVAX will now surpass the 12-week maximum interval recommended between the first and second dose of AstraZeneca unless 20 million doses are delivered by the end of June and another 5 million in July, the WHO said.

“The supply gap could be closed if countries with adequate supplies set aside a percentage of vaccines for COVAX,” said Richard Mihigo, coordinator of the WHO’s Immunization and Vaccines Development Program in Africa.

A deal negotiated with Johnson & Johnson by the African Union should supply Africa with 400 million vaccine doses beginning in the third quarter of this year.

Several countries’ health officials told Reuters they had yet to receive updated information on expected arrival dates for COVAX shots. Some are now weighing their options.

Ethiopia, for example, has received just 2.2 million of the 7.6 million AstraZeneca shots it was due to get through COVAX by the end of April.

“We were expecting some delays, but not to this scale. As a country we must search other options,” Muluken Yohannes, a senior adviser to Ethiopia’s health ministry, told Reuters.

(Additional reporting by Omar Mohammed in Nairobi, Christophe Van Der Perre in Dakar and Camillus Eboh and Felix Onuah in Abuja; Editing by Joe Bavier and Alexandra Hudson)

Nigeria urges U.S. to move Africa Command headquarters to continent

ABUJA (Reuters) – The United States should consider moving its military headquarters overseeing Africa to the continent, from Germany, to better tackle growing armed violence in the region, Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari said on Tuesday.

Nigerian security forces face multiple security challenges including school kidnappings by armed gangs in its northwest and piracy in the Gulf of Guinea as well as the decade-long insurgency by Islamist militant group Boko Haram, which also carries out attacks in neighboring Niger, Cameroon and Chad.

West Africa’s Sahel region is in the grip of a security crisis as groups with ties to al Qaeda and Islamic State attack military forces and civilians, despite help from French and United Nations forces.

Buhari, in a virtual meeting with U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken on Tuesday, said U.S. Africa Command (AFRICOM), should be relocated to Africa itself.

“Considering the growing security challenges in West and Central Africa, Gulf of Guinea, Lake Chad region and the Sahel, weighing heavily on Africa, it underscores the need for the United States to consider re-locating AFRICOM headquarters… near the theatre of operation,” said Buhari, according a statement issued by the presidency.

He spoke a week after the death of the longtime president of Chad, Idriss Deby, in a battle against rebels.

Deby was an important Western ally in the fight against Islamist militants and under him Chadian soldiers formed a key component of a multinational force fighting Boko Haram and its offshoot, which has pledged allegiance to Islamic State.

“The security challenges in Nigeria remain of great concern to us and impacted more negatively by existing complex negative pressures in the Sahel, Central and West Africa, as well as the Lake Chad Region,” said Buhari, a retired major general.

AFRICOM did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

(Reporting by Felix Onuah in Abuja; Additional reporting and writing by Alexis Akwagyiram in Lagos; Editing by Mark Heinrich)