Sub-Saharan Africa Remains The World’s Most Food-Insecure Region

With hunger that is affecting almost a quarter of its people, Sub-Saharan Africa Sub-Saharan Africa remains the world’s most food-insecure region.

Reports say there are more than 15 million people at risk of malnutrition in its Sahel region alone and an equal number in the Horn of Africa remain vulnerable after last year’s food crisis in Djibouti, Ethiopia, Kenya, and Somalia.

According to a new UN report launched today, the region cannot sustain its present economic growth unless it eliminates the hunger with more than one in four of its 856 million people undernourished.

The UN report also calls for new approaches to empower local communities to ensure food security in the region.

A young boy lies dying at a camp for drought victims in Bati, Ethiopia.

UN Photo

“Impressive GDP growth rates in Africa have not translated into the elimination of hunger and malnutrition.” – Helen Clark, Administrator of the UN Development Programme (UNDP)

Ms. Clark indicated that inclusive growth and people-centred approaches to food security are needed.

UNDP’s Africa Human Development Report 2012: Towards a Food Secure Future stresses that action on agriculture alone will not be enough to eliminate hunger.

The report highlighted that new approaches will have to include the improvement of health services and agricultural infrastructure.

She said building a food-secure future for all Africans will only be achieved if efforts span the entire development agenda.- Miss Clark

The report is the first in UNDP’s Human Development Report series which focuses specifically on Africa.

It underlines that food insecurity should not be prevalent in a continent that has been experiencing high rates of economic growth and improvements in life expectancy and schooling in recent years.

While acknowledging that there are no quick fixes, the report emphasizes that food security can be achieved through immediate action in four critical areas.

The approaches include increasing agricultural productivity of smallholder farmers; boosting nutrition by expanding access to health services, education and clean water; implementing social programmes that protect farmers against natural disasters and conflict; and giving women and marginalized groups access to land and technology.

Ms. Clark stressed that the impressive economic growth which much of the continent has been recording must now be accompanied by decisive action to improve food security and nutrition.

“Growth divorced from advances in human development does little for people, and without advances in human development, countries cannot meet their full potential either.” -Ms. Clark

Reports say despite difficult external conditions, output in sub-Saharan Africa grew by 5 percent last year.

Sub-Saharan Africa’s high rates of economic growth in recent years-some of the fastest in the world-and improvements in life expectancy and schooling have moreover failed to produce commensurate improvements in food security.

Hunger and extended periods of malnutrition not only devastate families and communities in the short term, but also leave a legacy with future generations that impairs livelihoods and undermines human development.

Food security, as defined by the 1996 world leaders’ Food Summit, denotes consistent access to sufficient and nutritious food to meet dietary needs for an active and healthy life, at an affordable price. Freedom from hunger enables people to live productive lives and fully realize their potential.

Mina Fabulous follows the news, especially what is going on in the US State Department. Mina turns State Department waffle into plain English. Mina Fabulous is the pen name of Carmen Avalino, the NewsBlaze production editor. When she isn’t preparing stories for NewsBlaze writers, she writes stories, but to separate her editing and writing identities, she uses the name given by her family and friends.