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The first of the U.N. Millennium Development Goals is that of eradicating extreme poverty and hunger. But according to the recently released 2014 Human Development Report, there are still 1.2 billion people living on $1.25 a day or less with little access to adequate food — and a vast majority of Africans fall into this group.

Here are six facts to know about hunger in Africa:

1. Although Africa is the second largest continent and covers close to one fifth of the Earth’s land area, the 54 countries that comprise the continent cannot feed their people. This is not due to a lack of food but instead a lack of agricultural infrastructure, raised food prices, drought and conflict.

2. In the most recent estimate (2010), approximately 239 million people in sub-Saharan Africa were hungry. Out of those, 30 percent were undernourished.

3. There are many mouths to feed. African population growth expanded from 221 million in 1950 to 1 billion in 2009 and is expected to be 4 billion in the year 2100. With such a high population, it is nearly impossible to produce enough food for everyone.

4. Poverty is a cause of hunger, hunger is a cause of poverty. Living under the poverty line makes it extremely difficult to buy food. Without food and with hunger, a person has lack of energy and can develop health problems which mean lost days at work and more medical needs.

5. According to the International Food Policy Research Institute, 160 million African children are malnourished, and one in five children will never reach 5 years of age.

6. Vitamin and mineral deficiencies are a major cause of death in women and children. These deficiencies are often referred to as “hidden hunger.” To combat this problem, UNICEF reported that “The WHO, the New Economic Partnership for African Development, the Development Bank of Southern Africa, the Micronutrient Initiative  and the Global Alliance for Improved Nutrition” have ensured that two-thirds of the sub-Saharan population now have access to iodized salt and children have been give vitamin A supplements.

While these facts are startling and seem unconquerable, they do not need to be. By moving to action, Africa can put an end to its hunger crisis. Moves to action may include donation to a charity or NGOs, such as The Borgen Project and contacting your state senator and asking them to support increase aid in U.S. foreign policy to end hunger in Africa.

Kori Withers

Sources: UNICEF, NPR, United Nations, World Issues 360, Hunger Notes, United Nations Development Program
Photo: Flickr