NAIROBI • The World Bank approved a US$2.3 billion (S$3.2 billion) programme to help countries in eastern and southern Africa increase their ability to deal with spreading food stress expected to affect about 66.4 million people in the region by next month.
The funding is meant to ease food-system shocks - spurred by drought, conflicts, and pest and disease outbreaks - that have been exacerbated by Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Washington-based lender said in a statement on Tuesday.
The so-called food systems resilience programme will "enhance inter-agency food crisis response strategies - including strengthening early-warning systems and rapid-response planning", as well as boost emergency support to producers and provide emergency trade measures and food reserves, it said. Beneficiary countries in the first phase are Ethiopia and Madagascar.
About 22.7 million people are food-insecure due to drought in Ethiopia, and 7.8 million in Madagascar, the World Bank said. The financing package for this phase amounts to US$788 million and is expected to benefit 2.3 million people, the lender said.
Part of the funding will also be directed to regional bodies, such as the Intergovernmental Authority on Development and the Centre for Coordination of Agricultural Research and Development for Southern Africa, to help strengthen information and data sharing.
Countries expected to participate in later phases are Comoros, Democratic Republic of Congo, Lesotho, Malawi, Mozambique, South Sudan, Tanzania, Zambia, and Zimbabwe, according to the World Bank.