By The Inspirer staff writer
About 257 million people in Africa are hungry, of whom 237 million in sub-Saharan Africa and 20 million in Northern Africa, a new UN report has revealed.
The publication called the Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition exposed that compared to 2015, there are 34.5 million more undernourished people in Africa, 32.6 million more in Sub-Saharan Africa, and 1.9 million more in Northern Africa.
Nearly half of the increase of hunger is due to the rise in undernourished people in Western Africa, while another third is from Eastern Africa, the report indicates.
The joint report by the Regional Office for Africa of the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) and the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) was launched last Wednesday in Addis Ababa at an event presided by FAO’s Deputy Director-General Climate and Natural Resources, Maria Helena Semedo.
With the current trends, the report concluded that Africa is not on track to meet Sustainable Development Goal 2 (SDG 2) that seeks sustainable solutions to end hunger in all its forms by 2030 and to achieve food security.
“The prevalence of undernourishment continues to rise and now affects 20 percent of the population on the continent, more than in any other region,” the report reads in part.
In Northern Africa, the rise is much less pronounced and the prevalence is 8.5 percent. In sub-Saharan Africa, the upward trend appears to be accelerating, and now 23 percent of the population is undernourished. The rise in the prevalence of undernourishment has been highest in Western Africa, followed by Central Africa.
“The worsening trend in Africa is due to difficult global economic and worsening environmental conditions and, in many countries, conflict and climate variability and extremes, sometimes combined… Food insecurity has worsened in countries affected by conflict, often exacerbated by drought or floods,” Abebe Haile-Gabriel, FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa, and Vera Songwe, ECA Executive Secretary said in their joint foreword of the report.
For example, they added, many countries in Southern and Eastern Africa suffered from drought.
Globally, there are today 821 million undernourished people in the world, 36.4 million more than in 2015.
Effective strategies needed to tackle climate change effects
Many countries in Africa, the report says, are at great risk to climate-related disasters and suffer from them frequently, adding that over the last ten years, climate-related disasters affected on average 16 million people and caused annually $0.67 billion in damages across the continent.
It called for greater efforts are needed to support rapidly growing insurance markets and establish strategic regional grain reserves to contain food price volatility and prevent food crises.
“Greater action is required to strengthen or build institutional capacity for risk monitoring and early warning systems; emergency preparedness and response; vulnerability reduction measures; shock-responsive and long-term social protection; and planning and implementing resilience building measures,” the UN experts said.