Experts at the ongoing fourth edition of the African Climate Change conference in Marrakech, Morocco have expressed concerns on Africa’s capacity to feed itself if the current outbreak of Ebola virus disease is not effectively tackled.
For months now, quarantine zones and restrictions on movement imposed to help contain the Ebola disease have severely hampered the transport and sale of food. Consequently food prices have shot up, as panic buying and shortages have set in, and getting access to food has become a pressing concern for many people in all three worst-hit countries in West Africa.
The price of cassava, for example, rose 150% in the first weeks of August in the Liberian capital, Monrovia.
Olushola Olayide, representative of the African Union Commission at the conference confirmed that concrete steps including the appointment of a special envoy and a delegation to affected countries have been taken and other areas of intervention are being considered by the commission. In addition, “Africa can overcome Ebola drawing valuable lessons from Nigeria’s successful containment of the outbreak,” Olayide added.
|Dr Abdalla Hamdok|
Dr Abdalla Hamdok of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) believes that Ebola is a very serious challenge to the continent but its within the continent’s reach to address it. According to Dr Hamdok, “this is the 14th outbreak of the disease since 1976 and it is an extreme case for solidarity as this is the first time it is breaking in urban centres.”
Ebola will definitely have an impact on Africa’s capacity to feed Africa if we don’t contain the outbreak as quickly as possible, declares Tosi Mpanu-Mpanu, Member Governing Board of the African Risk Capacity (ARC). “The fight against food insecurity and poverty will become even harder in view of the restrictions and challenges the disease imposes on manpower and resource mobilization,” said Mpanu Mpanu.
UN's Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has warned that Ebola outbreak is putting food harvests in West Africa "at serious risk.
In its special alert for Liberia, Sierra Leone and Guinea, the three countries worst affected, FAO revealed that rice and maize production will be particularly affected during the coming harvest season and food shortages are expected to worsen in the coming months.
The outbreak has killed at least 1,550 of the 3,000 people in four countries since March - the worst Ebola outbreak in history.
Atayi Babs, Marrakech, Morocco.