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Food insecurity and poverty, a major challenge to meeting SDGs target 2.1 in sub-Saharan Africa
With millions suffering from severe food insecurity in the region
Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant
Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.
23 February 2017, Freetown
- The second edition of the Regional Overview of Food Insecurity in
sub-Saharan Africa (2016) reveals that some 153 million people,
representing about 26 percent of the population above 15 years of age in
sub-Saharan Africa, suffered from severe food insecurity
it means is that, around one out of four individuals above 15 years of
age in sub-Saharan Africa was hungry but did not eat or went without
eating for a whole day for lack of money or other
resources for food”, remarked Bukar Tijani, FAO Assistant
Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa.
assessment underlines the significance of the challenge facing the
region in meeting SDGs’ target 2.1 and the relevance of sustainable and
substantial support to food security and nutrition
policies and programmes in the region”, he added.
aggregate level, sub-Saharan Africa achieved adequate food availability
over the 2014–2016 period, with a Dietary Energy Supply (DES) of 110.
However, several countries in the region remain
highly dependent on food imports to ensure adequate food supplies, with
some sub-regions depending on imports for up to a third of their cereal
indicates that substantial demand for food exists for these countries,
and there is a need to increase agricultural productivity, food
production and value addition, among other things.
Sierra Leone’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Food Security,
Patrick Monty Jones, noted that the agriculture in sub-Saharan Africa is
strongly based on household, small-scale farming,
and that majority of African farmers cultivate less than 10 per cent of
their land, which could be attributed to many factors including poor
governance of land tenure and shocks and stresses due to climate change
resulting to food insecurity.
overcome these challenges, the agricultural sector strategic objectives
and priority activities should include increased production and
productivity of staple food crops through value chain
approach for food security, promote commercial agriculture; promote and
increase value-adding activities for agricultural products, increase the
production and export of cash crops, and improve access to finance for
farmers”, he recommended.
report recognizes the need to spur a broad-based economic
transformation, particularly in the agricultural sector, which is the
major source of income in sub-Saharan Africa, to generate a
substantial reduction in poverty and improve food accessibility.
cites unstable food markets and commodity prices and natural disasters,
including severe droughts and floods leading to failed crops,
insufficient pasture feed and water for livestock, as well
as persistent political instability, conflicts and other forms of
violence as the main triggers of food insecurity and malnutrition in the
average per capita income, the report says it is three times lower in
sub-Saharan Africa than in other regions of the world in 2014, although
it witnessed a 30 percent increase between 1990
poverty levels declined in the region but remained the highest in the
world, with the region being far from halving the proportion of people
living in poverty.
even though some progress is being made in reducing malnutrition,
evidence shows that many countries in the region suffer from a triple
burden of malnutrition, that is, undernutrition,
micronutrient deficiencies, and overweight and obesity, the latter being
responsible for rising levels of non-communicable diseases.
Key social intervention strategies
to the report, a varied number of comprehensive social protection
policy frameworks and institutional arrangements have been introduced in
the region to integrate nutrition and agriculture.
regard, Bukar Tijani observes that “it is imperative for countries to
adopt multisectoral and multidisciplinary approaches in integrating
agriculture, nutrition, social protection and
related measures by realigning, integrating and coordinating activities
and accountability mechanisms to deliver evidence-based sustainable
nutrition solutions and outcomes.”
report also calls on countries to review and exert efforts in order to
improve the translation of political commitments and declarations into
effective programmes on the ground, particularly
in the context of the ambitious targets set in the Malabo Declaration
for 2025 and the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030.
laments that several documented policy commitments and strategies are
yet to generate the expected results, but says that many country
experiences illustrate the feasibility of eliminating
hunger and malnutrition through the right combination of cross-sectoral
policies and programmes.
report advocates for continued policy reforms to sharpen their focus,
and the creation of an enabling environment for investment and
participation by all relevant stakeholders, saying that
this is critical to ending hunger, and achieving food security and
specifically calls for the development of innovative resource
mobilization from a broad set of stakeholders from the public and
private sector and financial instruments that would enable the
implementation of actions in a sustained and widespread manner to scale
up food security and nutrition programmes in sub-Saharan Africa.
magnitude and impact of crises and disasters increase – aggravated by
the overexploitation of natural resources and climate change – more and
more households, communities and governments
in the region are less able to absorb, recover and adapt, making them
increasingly vulnerable to future shocks,” the report said.
report urges governments to intensify their efforts to ensure that years
of gradual agricultural development gains are not wiped out by
recurrent shocks, adding that increasing the resilience
of agricultural livelihoods and promoting and financing climate-smart
agricultural practices would be a powerful lever to reach the pledge of
the Sustainable Development Goals “to leave no one behind”.
immediate short, medium and long-term measures are needed to promote
and scale up appropriate technologies to adapt and mitigate climate
variability and change, to develop resilience
monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and to minimize the impacts of El
Niño on affected communities.
resilience through peace-building efforts is critical to food security
and nutrition. In armed conflict and protracted crises, protecting,
saving and rebuilding agricultural livelihoods
to save lives and create the conditions for longer-term resilience is a
key step towards ensuring peace and stability. The critical role of the
agriculture sector in crisis situations must not be overlooked and
necessary investments need to be made”, the report