The United Nations (UN) is sounding the alarm on a worsening food crisis in West and Central Africa.

A joint statement by the World Food Programme (WFP), the UN children’s agency UNICEF, and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) warns that nearly 55 million people will struggle to feed themselves in the coming months due to soaring food prices.

The crisis is fueled by a combination of factors, including double-digit inflation and stagnating local food production. These economic challenges exacerbate the long-standing issue of recurrent conflicts in the region.

Countries like Nigeria, Ghana, Sierra Leone, and Mali are expected to be hit particularly hard. The UN agencies report that staple food prices have risen dramatically across the region, with some increases exceeding 100% compared to the five-year average.

The situation is especially dire in northern Mali, where an estimated 2,600 people face the threat of catastrophic hunger.

“We need immediate action,” said Margot Vandervelden, WFP’s acting regional director for West Africa. “All partners must step up to prevent this situation from spiraling out of control.”

Vandervelden emphasizes the need for long-term solutions. “Investing in resilience-building initiatives is crucial for the future of West Africa,” she added.

The UN is urging international collaboration to address the crisis and prevent a large-scale humanitarian disaster.