Hunger on the rise in Africa, new UN report reveals

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A new United Nations report reveals that hunger is on the rise in Africa following years of decline due to a number of reasons, including difficult global economic conditions, adverse climatic conditions due to El Niño and soaring staple food prices.

Titled The 2018 Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition Report, the joint UN Report reveals that the prevalence of undernourishment continues to rise and now affects 20 percent of the population on the continent, more than in any other region.

After years of decline, recent statistics from the joint report of the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) show that there are 821 million undernourished people in the world.

Of these, 257 million are in Africa, of which 237 million in sub-Saharan Africa and 20 million in Northern Africa. Compared to 2015, there are 34.5 million more undernourished people in Africa.

Nearly half of the increase is due to the rise in the number of undernourished people in Western Africa, while another third is from Eastern Africa.

In her speech during the launch of the report, ECA’s deputy Executive Secretary, Giovani Biha, said the report sounds alarm bells for the continent, adding at this rate, Africa does not seem to be on track to achieve sustainable development goal number 2, which is zero hunger

“Interestingly, African economies grew at impressive rates often exceeding five per cent over the past decade spanning from 2004 to 2014. However, poverty and hunger are still hanging in as significant economic growth has not been integrated and inclusive,” she said.

She said to achieve the SDGs by 2030, including SDG 2, Africa needs to enact reforms that would help build resilience, and raise potential growth and its inclusiveness.

Achieving this would require policies to enhance the continent’s structural transformation efforts through the facilitation of the reallocation of labour and capital towards more productive sectors of national economies, including modernizing the agriculture sector.

Policy-makers must work towards scaling-up actions to strengthen the resilience of people’s livelihoods, food systems and nutrition

Food insecurity in some countries in Africa has been worsened by conflict, often in combination with adverse weather, which has left millions of people in need of urgent assistance.

For her part, Ms. Maria Helena Semedo, Deputy Director-General, FAO, said it is sad that after years of progress, the continent was regressing in its efforts to improve food security.

“Policy-makers must work towards scaling-up actions to strengthen the resilience of people’s livelihoods, food systems and nutrition to climate variability and extremes,” she said, adding the FAO will continue to work with its partners in an effort to combat hunger on the continent.

Based on ECA research, countries need to address food and nutrition insecurity within a holistic approach, one built around six main lines of action that involve:

–              dealing with water, energy and food stress, with a view to managing natural resources sustainably to secure land and water rights and creating a macroeconomic environment that promotes the efficient use of natural resources;

–              integrating food security into rural and agricultural transformation programmes, with the aim of enhancing the resilience of rural residents;

–              developing pro-poor policies that enhance the purchasing power of poor people;

–              developing national approaches to food and nutrition security that are resilient to shocks and other stresses;

–              encouraging and facilitating a multi-sectoral approach to food security and resilience through coordinating plans and programmes across line ministries; and

–              orienting national food security policies towards more domestic food self-reliance, within a sub-regional/regional economic community perspective.

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