FAO Report Cites Food Security Risk Due to Climatic Extremes and Other Factors

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The Food Agriculture Organization of the United Nations provides a quarterly report on the major disasters that threaten food security and agriculture such as new emergencies or developments that can worsen the already vulnerable situation of a region or country.

This quarterly report serves as a warning to future disasters and threats. With a warning, the report also comes with recommendations on how to prepare and prevent further damage to food security.

Recommendations here would take the form of the most appropriate intervention specific to a region over the coming months to prevent the worse impacts in their livelihoods and agriculture due to disasters caused by climate extremes such as prolonged dry days, floods, or other factors like conflicts and economic crisis.

Identifying and classifying threats to food security

The report classifies threats to food security as “high risk” or “on watch.”

  • “High risk” is used when new emergencies are anticipated that will cause severe effects on agriculture and food production.
  • “On watch” means that there is a moderate likelihood of threats resulting in a potential impact that requires close monitoring.

The Global risk maps show the country and region experiencing food insecurity ranging from “high risk” to “on watch” for the period between January to March 2020.

Not only does the report identifies regions at risk of disasters to food security but also a timeline of cyclone formations around the globe showing the seven tropical cyclone basins around the globe, and the months these cyclone appears and peaks on average, animal health threats that could potentially affect food security, and regions with or without a humanitarian response plans. Factors like cyclone seasons, animal health, and the presence of humanitarian response plan can have an impact on a region’s food security and their coping capabilities.

Some “high-risk” countries identified in the report in terms of food security and agriculture are Nigeria, South Sudan, Zimbabwe, Haiti, and Yemen. High-risk regions include almost all of Southeast Asia.

“On watch” countries include some African countries like Congo, Sudan, Central African Republic, Venezuela in South America, and Iraq, the Syrian Arab Republic in the Middle East, Mongolia, North Korea in Asia. And “On watch” regions include some countries in the Southern parts of Africa.

Factors that threaten food security

There are many factors that threaten food security in a region or countries these are:

  • prolonged dry conditions like what is happening in North Korea and Haiti, floods, outbreaks of diseases like Ebola in Congo, 
  • African swine fever outbreak in Asia,
  • desert locust outbreak that threatens pastures and crops in Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia, and
  • economic crisis;

Sometimes conflicts and displacements is a significant threat to food security like what is happening in some countries in Africa and in Yemen in the middle east according to the report.

Overview, potential impact and recommendation

After identifying the countries and regions at risk, the report takes a closer look at each country gives an overview of the risks, describes the potential impact, and then provides recommendations in the form of early actions to take to prevent the worst to come.

For example, Zimbabwe is identified by FAO as one of the high-risk countries in terms of their food security and agriculture. Severe droughts have caused a significant drop in cereal production and deficits in rainfall has reduced maize production as well. The situation was compounded by outbreaks in pest diseases. These events have increased humanitarian needs in the country.

The reduction of rainfall, an average of 9-40 per cent less than their long-term average has not only delayed their crop planting but also reduced their planting areas. Current climate forecasts show more below than average rainfalls as well as above-average temperatures meaning warmer days, for the remainder of the season which is January to March 2020.

Their livestock also suffered from diseases and a cattle mortality increased at 15 per cent due to diseases while severe drought has affected their livestock body conditions as well.

Recommended early actions for Zimbabwe includes distribution of fast-maturing vegetable seeds, provision of strong and better storage equipment that would prevent further post-harvest losses.

In terms of their livestock, recommendations include the following: install measures to control tick-borne diseases, rehabilitate watering points for livestock, distribute feed and mineral supplements to vulnerable livestock holders and to keep breeders alive.

The FAO report is a good reference to identifying disaster-prone zone, food security risk, and possible solutions that can be integrated with the climate adaptation or mitigation program of a town, city or even the whole country.

To read the entire report please refer to the citation at the bottom of this post.


FAO. 2020. Early Warning Early Action Report on Food Security and Agriculture (January–March 2020). Rome. Retrieved from http://www.fao.org/3/ca7557en/ca7557en.pdf

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