The number of undernourished people in Africa is on the rise. According to a joint report by the Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), there are 257 million undernourished people in Africa as compared to 222.5 million in 2015.
The hike, the report says, is due to different factors such as adverse climatic conditions like El Nino, soaring staple food prices and global economic conditions. The report, The 2018 Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition Report, reveals that the total number of undernourished people globally is 821 million. The rise in prevalence of undernourishment has seen 20% of the population in Africa being affected, which is more than any other region in the world.
Out of the 257 million people affected in the continent, 237 million are in sub-Saharan Africa while 20 million are in northern Africa. Compared to 2015, the number of undernourished people has increased by 34.5 million of which almost half of the increase is attributable to the rising cases in Western Africa while Eastern Africa accounts for a third of the increase.
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. According to Giovani Biha, ECA’s deputy executive secretary, the report sounds alarm bells for Africa as it 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 5% 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.
Additionally, 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.