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.
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.
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