COVID has ‘pushed back’ democracy, war in Ukraine further increases risk – Global Issues

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine will affect food security on the continent, both through the availability and price of imported food, as well as growing uncertainties in global financial markets and supply chains.

Russia and Ukraine, often referred to as the breadbasket of the world, are major players in the export of wheat and sunflower to Africa.

Together, Algeria, Egypt, Libya, Morocco, Tunisia, Nigeria, Ethiopia, Sudan and South Africa account for 80% of all wheat imports, which are expected to reach 76 .5 million tonnes by 2025.

“Immense dissatisfaction”

At a press conference in Geneva on the impacts on Africa of the war in Ukraine, Ahunna Eziakonwa, director of the Africa office of the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), said that the COVID-19 pandemic had already created “tremendous discontent” across the continent.

COVID has pushed tens of millions into poverty and “pushed back” democracy in parts of Africa, she added.

The biggest challenges

The pandemic has also complicated efforts to overcome insecurity and violence, the UNDP regional director continued, referring to violent extremism and climatic shocks that have destabilized large areas of the Sahel region in recent years.

Drawing attention to the “global pandemic that has upended the world and changed it forever, the office manager said:”we have never experienced so much pressure and challenge in our ability to maintain peace and development and a healthy planet, as we are experiencing today.”

“We have seen how COVID-19 has complicated the effort to sustain or overcome insecurity created by many forces including violent extremism and the impact of this, the consequence, has affected lives and livelihoods. subsistence, but has also created immense discontent with the population which is headed for a regression of democracy”.

It has also led to an increase in “pre-existing conditions, increased poverty and inequality”, she added.

“Unprecedented crisis”

UNDP’s senior economist for Africa, Raymond Gilpin, noted that the continent’s dependence on imports of food, fuel, medicine and consumer goods made it particularly vulnerable to rising l global inflation.

Describing the situation as a “an unprecedented crisis for the continent, he explained that Africa faces a trifecta of “continuing effects of COVID…newly felt effects of the Russian-Ukrainian war and…related challenges and pressures to the climate”.

“As the cost of fuel becomes more expensive, energy sources, energy prices, do not come down in African countries, we are going to see millions of households switching to unsustainable energy sources, and that in many fragile environments, especially looking at places like the Sahel,” Gilpin said.

“We are going to see a lot more deforestation and a reversal of the significant progress that had been made in greening the Sahel.”

Moreover, tensions would likely increase, with a “strong possibility” of turning into violent protests, he added.

A chief’s visit

Meanwhile, during a visit to Senegal last Sunday, UN Secretary-General António Guterres said: “when talking about the socio-economic situation, it is impossible not to mention the war in Ukraine and its impact on Africa,which aggravated a “triple food, energy and financial crisis” across the African continent.

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