Food Insecurity in Africa
Thirty-four African leaders met between 25-27 January 2023 in Senegal to address worsening food insecurity in Africa. The president of Senegal and the president of the African Development Bank (AfDB), Dr. Akinwunmi Adesina, jointly hosted the gathering, called the Dakar 2 – Africa Food Summit. Adesina announced that the AfDB would be dedicating $10 billion worth of funding over the next five years to reduce food insecurity on the African continent.

The Magnitude of Food Insecurity

According to the report “The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2022,” an annual assessment that several U.N. partners compiled, the global effort to reduce extreme hunger and food insecurity “is moving backward.” One can attribute this to conflicts, changing weather patterns, economic shocks and the COVID-19 pandemic as well as a disconnect between agricultural policies and expected outcomes.

In Africa, food insecurity has been endemic, but it has worsened in recent times. The backward movement in the global effort to reduce the prevalence, which the report underscored, is graphically illustrated through statistics. For instance, the number of persons facing hunger on the African continent stood at 187.4 million in 2015.

In 2021, the number of individuals experiencing hunger rose to 278 million, or 20.2%, the highest rate of hunger across the world. In Africa, almost 58% of the population is enduring moderate to severe food insecurity. The Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) predicts that, in Africa, these numbers will worsen and, by 2030, the African continent will hold the highest burden of undernourished individuals.

The AfDB commitment and the declarations of leaders during the Dakar 2 – Africa Food Summit underscore the gravity of the issue. Additionally, this is a positive development, indicating a determination to own the problem and address it, boldly.

Currently, due to budget constraints due to the COVID-19 pandemic, dwindling prices of commodities, “slow disbursement of funds,” heavy reliance on donor funds and lack of political will, African countries are unable to direct sufficient capital toward addressing food insecurity in Africa. Indeed, many African countries have not reached the goal of the Maputo Declaration, developed in 2003, to “allocate at least 10% of their national budget to food and agriculture.” The Dakar 2 – Africa Food Summit recognizes the severity of the issue and demonstrates a renewed political will to address food insecurity in Africa.

The Vision

At the end of the Dakar 2 – Africa Food Summit, African leaders acknowledged that with 65% of the world’s uncultivated land in Africa, the continent has the potential to become self-sufficient in food production. In fact, Africa has the potential to become the food basket of the world by 2030. The leaders, therefore, agreed to support the process of boosting agricultural production on the continent with strong political will in cooperation with development partners to ensure food sustainability in Africa.


The Dakar 2 – Africa Food Summit, with the sub-theme Food Sovereignty and Resilience, set out strategies for the implementation of the leaders’ visions. The Country Food and Agriculture Delivery Compacts developed at this summit “convey the vision, challenges and opportunities in agricultural productivity, infrastructure, processing and value addition, markets and financing that will accelerate the implementation of the African Union’s Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Program (CAADP).”

Some of these strategies include:

  • Develop Presidential Delivery Councils to supervise the implementation of agricultural programs in each country.
  • “Mobilize internal and external financing” for food and agriculture programs.
  • Expand funding from national budgets to support these food security objectives.

Looking Ahead

The response of the African Development Bank in collaboration with African leaders to address food insecurity in Africa is certainly a welcomed development. Leaders agree that it does not make sense for Africa to hold both 65% of the world’s arable land and the highest number of food-insecure individuals. The collaborative strategies of global leaders have the potential to lift a significant number of Africans out of poverty.

– Friday Okai
Photo: Flickr

Food Insecurity in Africa
East Africa faces a drought this growing season after two consecutive failed growing seasons. Growing food insecurity in Africa poses a threat to the younger residents of the area. Disease, child marriages and malnutrition spread as the drought continues. Organizations such as UNICEF and USAID work daily to provide resources to the Horn of Africa to prevent deaths.

Drought in the Horn of Africa

The Horn of Africa contains residents of Sudan, Ethiopia, Somalia, Kenya, Eritrea and other countries on the East African Peninsula. UNICEF reported that 2022 marks the third failed rain and farming season in the Horn of Africa. As the drought ravages this section of Africa, a lack of water and crops spreads diseases and worsens malnutrition in children. UNICEF estimates that 1.7 million children need treatment for severe acute malnutrition and could reach 2 million in a matter of weeks without rain in their region.

Rising Food Prices in International Market

Russia invaded Ukraine in mid-February and offset the foreign food market. The invasion of Ukraine concurrently arose at the start of various countries’ growing seasons. Food prices on the international market have soared in this time to prices that exacerbated food insecurity in Africa. During a typical year, other countries would rely on their own crops during this economic fall, but the drought has decimated the essential crops needed to feed families.

Ukraine is the breadbasket of Europe and provides wheat supplies to the international market. According to The New Humanitarian, farmers did not plant as many fields due to the invasion. The economy struggles as ports close and they can no longer export to developing nations such as those located in the Horn of Africa.

Solutions to Food Insecurity

It is now up to governments to intervene as food insecurity in Africa worsens. Help with imports, agricultural techniques during droughts and food for families are all necessary to combat the effects of the international market and drought on food insecurity. UNICEF provides Ready-to-Use Therapeutic Food (RUTF) to treat children suffering from malnutrition. These supplies prevent wasting in children. Wasting has a high risk of death since the children are low weight compared to their height. RUTF helps children gain weight quickly with high nutritional value and is consumable directly from a packet. “Between 2017 and 2021, UNICEF procured some 2 million cartons for South Sudan,” UNICEF stated. As the drought continues, parents in the Horn of Africa debate how to save their children from malnutrition.

UNICEF partners with local governments as the drought takes students out of school and into child marriages. Parents exchange their kids in hopes their children receive food through the union, Forbes reported. They believe that in their married state the children will avoid wasting. UNICEF’s programs assist mothers to measure their children’s Mid-Upper Arm Circumference to gauge their level of malnutrition. Prevention of child marriages and assisting mothers with malnourished children are crucial to UNICEF. They advocate for funding and policies on a national level to provide help with food insecurity in Africa as the drought continues and the international market’s prices rise.

The U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) provides aid during the drought. It donated $161 million to the Horn of Africa in 2022 and called for new donors to assist as the drought and rising food prices impede the lives of families and children. This money supports agriculture and livestock, clean drinking water, medical supplies and nutrition assistance for malnourished children.

The conflict between Ukraine and Russia increases food prices and strains Africa’s imports. Preventing food insecurity in Africa requires additional funding and policies. Children face the threat of starvation the hardest and need life-saving RUTFs and aid.

– Sara Sweitzer
Photo: Flickr