NAIROBI, Nov. 29 (Xinhua) -- About 76 million people will require emergency food assistance across 45 countries mainly in Africa in 2018, a food security assessment report released in Nairobi on Wednesday shows.
The report by the Famine Early Warning Systems Network (FEWs Net), a donor-funded agency which monitors food insecurity, warns that four of these countries - South Sudan, Somalia, Nigeria and Yemen - face a credible risk of famine while the Somali region of Ethiopia remains an area of concern.
"Given that no improvement in underlying conditions is expected in these countries, the provision of humanitarian assistance will be a primary determinant of whether famine is averted," FEWS Net said.
This figure, says the report, is 60 percent higher than in 2015 and only slightly lower than the 83 million people in need during 2017. The decline between 2017 and 2018 is due, almost entirely, to improvements in Southern Africa.
According to the report, drought in Somalia and the Somali region of Ethiopia, and conflict in Yemen, South Sudan, and northeast Nigeria are the main drivers of acute food insecurity within these countries.
The report calls on governments and the international community to ramp up efforts to resolve conflict, ensure humanitarian access, and make more resources available for emergency response to help save lives.
It says conflict will be the primary driver of food security emergencies during 2018, including in Afghanistan, Central African Republic, Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), Nigeria and the Lake Chad region, South Sudan, Syria, and Yemen.
"In these countries, ongoing insecurity will continue to disrupt livelihoods, limit trade and market functioning, displace households, and hinder the delivery of humanitarian assistance," FEWS Net said.
The report says little improvement is anticipated during the coming year following unprecedented food assistance needs in 2017.
"Governments, international agencies, donors, and other stakeholders should make all possible efforts to resolve conflict, ensure humanitarian access, and provide timely, multi-sectoral assistance to prevent large-scale loss of life," says the report.
FEWS Net says poor rainfall, and its impact on crop and livestock production, will also contribute to a high level of need in some countries.
"In parts of the Horn of Africa, a severe drought during the past 18 months has decimated livestock herds and sharply reduced crop production, particularly in Somalia and southeastern Ethiopia," it says.
Forecasts also indicate that below-average rainfall is likely during the spring 2018 rainy season, in part due to the ongoing La Nina.
In addition, rainfall in some pastoral areas of West Africa has been mediocre to poor for a third consecutive year, and forecasts for the upcoming seasons in Southern Africa and Central Asia indicate an increased likelihood of drier than usual conditions.
The report warns the size of the food insecure population is likely to grow in most other countries. Thirteen countries are expected to have more than 1 million people (local populations, IDPs, and refugees) in crisis or worse and in need of emergency assistance during 2018.
"These include: Yemen (15 million); Syria, South Sudan, DRC, Ethiopia, and Nigeria (5.00-6.99 million); Afghanistan, Somalia, and Sudan (3.00-4.99 million); and Kenya, Iraq, Uganda, and Pakistan (1.00-2.99 million)," FEWS Net said.