Poverty and Hunger in Ghana and AfricaPoverty and hunger in Ghana pose present significant issues that harm millions of people in the country. With an estimated 24.2% of the population living below the poverty line on less than $1.90 a day, poverty in Ghana remains a persistent issue that impacts access to food, education and the necessary resources to live a healthy and fulfilling life. A common experience that results from living in extreme levels of poverty in Ghana and across the entire continent of Africa is hunger. The continent lacks food sovereignty. What this means is that most countries in Africa depend on other nations and imported resources to feed themselves. During a three-day Feed Africa Summit in January 2023, a conference held to find solutions to the hunger crisis in Africa, the African Development Bank Group chief stated that an estimated 283 million African people experience hunger daily.

Malnutrition in Ghana

Many countries that experience high levels of hunger also experience malnutrition. Malnutrition occurs when the body is missing the required nutrients or when it has more than it needs. The World Health Organization (WHO) reports that malnutrition accounts for nearly half of all deaths among children under 5 years old. This is true in the case of Ghana where, in 2019, an estimated one in every ten children under 5 years old were underweight, with many not having access to diverse food groups that contain vital nutrients for physical development. 

The Impact of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict

While Ghana is already a historically impoverished nation, the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine has had a very negative economic impact on the country and the entire continent of Africa. One way in which the war has negatively impacted the continent is the rising price of food. These food prices are the result of African communities being dependent on imported goods from Russia and Ukraine, specifically wheat and sunflower products. In many regions of West Africa from 2019 to 2022, the percentage of people struggling with food insecurity rose from 10.7 million to 40.7 million

The issue of an increasing number of individuals experiencing crisis is only expected to get worse as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine continues. This is due to agricultural activities being on hold, thereby stopping the exportation of goods that Ghana depends on. Beyond the Russia-Ukraine conflict impacting hunger in Ghana, there is also the issue of climate change that impacts the rain-fed crops which the country relies on. 

Ongoing Efforts

The United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) uses food assistance to save lives during emergencies. Since its establishment in 1961, the organization has helped millions of people across different countries to achieve greater levels of food security. In Ghana, WFP focuses on preventing a specific form of malnutrition known as stunting. Stunting occurs when growth is hindered due to poor nutrition. To address this issue, WFP in Ghana provides aid to pregnant women and children aged 6 months to 2 years, recognizing the first 1,000 days of life as the most critical period for establishing proper nutrition and laying a foundation for healthy growth.

The organization offers assistance to those in need by providing vouchers to mothers, enabling them to purchase nutritious food that might otherwise be inaccessible. Moreover, they collaborate with private organizations and government agencies to establish food supply chains and connect small farmers with larger processing firms. In addition, they have implemented a nationwide school feeding program that connects children with nutritious food at school, linking it directly to local agriculture.

Looking Ahead

The WFP, through its efforts, is working to combat malnutrition and promote food security in Ghana. While food insecurity is still a problem in the country, every step toward progress in the fight against it represents hope for Ghanaians.


– Kellyjohana Ahumada
Photo: Flickr

Hunger in Burkina FasoBurkina Faso, a landlocked country in West Africa, struggles with conflict-induced household displacement. This poses significant challenges to crop production and harvests, resulting in issues of hunger in Burkina Faso. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reported that in 2022, more than 90% of the surveyed households were involved in crop production. According to the same report, many of the surveyed households experienced several conflict-related challenges.


In 2022, the FAO conducted the DIEM (Data in Emergencies Monitoring) assessment, surveying more than 5,000 households throughout Burkina Faso. The survey asked households whether they had experienced any of several shocks as early as three months prior to August 2022. Among the surveyed households, 70% reported experiencing one or more shocks in that timeframe. Sickness or death of a household member accounted for 46% of the reported shocks, while higher food prices accounted for 31%. In the Sahel region, 55% of those surveyed reported an increase in food prices.

On top of the widespread increase in food prices, 50% of households throughout the country reported experiencing a decrease in primary income. Apart from increasing food prices, up to 81% of respondents in the Sahel region reported experiencing a decrease in primary income.

Inflation Crises

The FAO reports that Burkina Faso’s inflation rate reached as high as 18% between July and August 2022, further contributing to the hunger problem. Repeated instances of conflict in the Sahel and Centre-North regions have led to significant population displacement in those areas. Among the survey respondents, more than 70% reported crop production difficulties. Nearly 40% of crop producers reported insufficient access to irrigated water, and 59% reported insufficient access to fertilizers. Of the households that participated in the FAO survey, 96% reported a need for food production assistance in the following six months. Among them, more than 60% reported needing food assistance.

Reports from the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) suggest that around 40% of Burkina Faso’s population lives below the poverty line, and up to 20% of the population is classified as food insecure.

Actions Toward Change

There are ongoing efforts aimed at decreasing hunger in Burkina Faso and alleviating its short-term and long-term effects. The Food Agriculture Organization (FAO), along with other humanitarian organizations such as the United Nations International Children’s Emergency Fund (UNICEF), the World Food Programme (WFP) and the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), are working hard to combat these issues. At the annual meeting of the Network for the Prevention of Food Crisis in West Africa, the UNICEF, FAO and WFP issued a joint statement calling on other governments to increase their investments in support of Burkina Faso and other struggling neighboring countries by strengthening their food security and nutrition programs.

The FAO has reached more than 600,000 people in Burkina Faso, assisting them with food production. Additionally, the FAO provides cash-based transfers and complementary services to more than 400,000 people.

In 2021, USAID provided almost $12 million in funding to support agricultural production, food security and vulnerable communities in Burkina Faso. The organization also helps farmers by increasing their access to water for agricultural purposes and mitigating the effects of climate-related shocks on their livelihoods.

Looking Ahead

Several organizations are working tirelessly to combat the rising levels of hunger in Burkina Faso despite the challenges posed by rising inflation rates, intense conflict in the northern regions, decreasing primary income and insufficient livelihood protection. One of the main goals is to ensure that more citizens can get access to food.

– Christopher Dickinson
Photo: Flickr

this-mobile-app-fights-hunger-in-africaSub-Saharan Africa has the highest prevalence of undernourishment, with poverty being the leading cause of hunger. One invention increasing agricultural efficiency to fight back against hunger is the Farm to Market Alliance (FtMA) app. The app fights hunger in Africa by acting as a communication system for farmers to connect with one another and as an educational system for farmers to understand the market.

What Causes Hunger in Africa?

According to the U.N., approximately 21% of people in Africa suffered from hunger in 2020. Even further, the cost of food is also on the rise, up 42% from 2016. A number of factors contribute to these troubling statistics:

  • Poverty is the leading cause of hunger, resulting in an inability to afford sufficient food.
  • Conflict places constraints on employment opportunities and subsequently inhibits a person’s ability to acquire food. Conflict can also impact the import and export of food, leading to limited food access.
  • The environment, as environmental challenges such as erosion, drought and water shortages can have grave impacts on food security.
  • Poor governance and policies can lead to insufficient food access.
  • Population growth can limit increases in per capita income, causing hunger.

Creating an Alliance

Though reducing hunger is not easy, increasing agricultural productivity in developing countries is critical to chipping away at the problem. Growth in agriculture is two to four times more effective than growth in other sectors at raising income and subsequently, reducing hunger.  

Motivated by the promise of agricultural improvements serving as a counter to growing hunger rates in Africa, six agricultural-focused organizations — the Alliance for a Green Revolution in Africa (AGRA), Bayer, Rabobank, Syngenta, United Nations World Food Programme (WFP) and Yara International ASA — banded together to create the FtMA in 2016. The goal of the Alliance is to help make a sustainable agricultural sector that empowers farmers, builds strong markets and improves food security in Africa.

FtMA helps African farming families transition to commercial agriculture by leveraging the knowledge and experience of the world’s agricultural experts. In addition, FtMA looks to form local private sector partnerships that deliver a wide range of products and services to farmers.

As a result, the smallholder farmers can confidently plan, grow, store and sell their crops, maximizing the productivity and profitability of their yield.

Getting Technical

To reach as many farmers as possible, the Alliance launched the FtMA app. The app fights hunger in Africa through its many functions, including acting as a platform for ecosystem workers to offer their services, a communication tool to connect farmers, and, in the future, a method of payment to digitize transactions, according to WFP.

The FtMA app also fights hunger in Africa by providing modules for commodity aggregation, input and equipment ordering, loan applications and more currently under development. In addition, to help the farmers’ relationships with suppliers, the app keeps records of farmers’ activities and creates a credit history that financiers can use to provide loans.

The app aims to build upon the success of the Farm to Market Alliance, which has helped over 223,000 farmers since 2016, according to its website. By going digital, the app fights hunger in Africa by connecting farmers, organizing their work and, most importantly, empowering farmers as they face the difficult task of providing for those who are hungry.

Sarah DiLuzio
Photo: Flickr