Recent hard-won gains in food security and nutrition are under threat, UN agency saidforcing the government to declare a social and economic emergency this week.
Unless urgent action is taken, the crisis will severely disrupt food access and agricultural production, putting even more lives at risk as the country relies heavily on food imports to meet its needs.
Communities at risk
“The current level of food insecurity is unprecedented. If urgent action is not taken, local agricultural production, animal husbandry and the livelihoods of rural communities will be seriously threatened,” said Dr. Guantueu Robert Guey. FAO Sub-regional coordinator for West Africa and his representative in Senegal.
The crisis is driven by a combination of factors, including a multi-year drought that has led to a significant reduction in food production and the loss of pastures.
COVID-19 also dealt a severe blow, as the country is heavily dependent on tourism, which accounts for more than 60 percent of its gross domestic product, while almost 70 percent of the population is employed in this sector.
The pandemic has disrupted the economy, resulting in a nearly 80 percent drop in tourism revenue in just two years.
Impact of the war in Ukraine
The situation is further exacerbated by the ripple effect of the war in Ukraine, which is affecting global food and energy markets, disrupting supply chains and causing food price spikes. The poorest sections of the population were disproportionately affected.
In April, WFPtogether with the Government of Cape Verde and UN sister agency, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), conducted an assessment mission in the country.
The results showed that vulnerable families in rural areas are cutting back on meals and eating fewer meals, sometimes only once a day, as food stocks dwindle and food prices reach record highs.
School feeding program under threat
In addition, farmers sell their livestock and reduce milk and cheese production. The country also experienced a 34% rainfall deficit last season, leading to the region’s highest drop in 2021 cereal production last year with a staggering 93% drop in production.
Cape Verde also has West Africa’s first national school feeding program supporting vulnerable families and helping to prevent a sharp drop in enrollment and school attendance.
The program is also currently in danger of being suspended as the government is unable to supply all the necessary goods.
“The current situation in Cape Verde highlights the fragility of food and safety nets in coastal West Africa,” said Elvira Pruschini, WFP Deputy Regional Director for West Africa.
“It is critical that we come together now to support the government in maintaining essential social protection programs and meeting the urgent food and nutrition needs of the most vulnerable communities.”
WFP and FAO are requesting $15 million to support the government’s two-year response plan to strengthen national social protection programs such as school meals, support for resilience activities and increased agricultural production.