The United Nations has warned that over 20 million people in the Democratic Republic of Congo are facing acute food insecurity, in a dramatic rise from last year.
“The number of people facing acute food insecurity at crisis or worse levels have dramatically increased – from 15.6 million in 2019 to 21.8 million,” the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation says in a report.
The organisation says conflict and effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, which have affected food prices and livelihoods, have worsened the problem.
“These factors are exacerbating humanitarian needs and the country is now the world’s largest food crisis,” the report says.
The organisation also cites “an economic decline linked to currency depreciation and drop in GDP growth and natural hazards”, such as flooding, as contributing to the crisis,
According to the FAO, most of the people affected by the problem are in North and South Kivu, Ituri, and Kasai Central provinces.
The UN agency says the situation is particularly difficult for internally displaced people and returnees “who often return to their area of origin and find themselves without the means to resume their livelihood”.
The FAO warns that with the acute hunger, any further disruption of food supply chains will only worsen human suffering and hamper efforts to address the problem.