257 Million Africans are Undernourished and the Numbers are Rising

By Korir Isaac / February 25, 2019 | 8:22 am




A new UN report, the 2018 Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition, has shown that 20 percent of the African population; 257 million people, are undernourished and the numbers have been increasing recently.

The report shows that more people in Africa are undernourished than any other region.

The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) released a report showing that there are 821 million undernourished people in the world.

A total of 237 million people of the 257 million undernourished in Africa come from the sub-Saharan region. In Northern Africa, 20 million people are undernourished.

“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 23 percent of the population is undernourished. The rise in the prevalence of undernourishment has been highest in Western Africa, followed by Central Africa,” read the report.

According to the statistics, there are 34.5 million more undernourished people in Africa compared to the year 2015.

READ ALSO State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World- FAO 

While speaking during the launch of the report, ECA’s Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovani Biha, noted that the stats sound the alarm bells for the continent, adding that Africa does not seem to be on track to achieve sustainable development goal number 2, which is zero hunger.

“Interestingly, African economies grew at impressive rates often exceeding five percent over the past decade spanning from 2004 to 2014. However, poverty and hunger are still hanging in as significant economic growth has not been integrated and inclusive,” she said.

The Eastern and Southern Africa regions, for instance, have for a while been hit with climatic conditions that have significantly led to a decline in agricultural production and soaring staple food prices.

Weather conditions, as well as conflicts in various parts of the continent, have threatened Africa’s food security and nutrition, particularly in those countries relying much on Agriculture.

Noted in the report also is reduced precipitation and higher temperatures, which are said to be impacting negatively on the yields of staple food crops.

By 2050, climate change will cause another 71 million people to be food insecure in the world, over half of whom will be in sub-Saharan Africa.

The continent is falling short of the zero hunger SDG, which was targeted to be achieved by the year 2030. As such, Africa needs to enact reforms that would help build resilience and raise potential growth and its inclusiveness.

Achieving this would require policies to enhance the continent’s structural transformation efforts through the facilitation of the reallocation of labor and capital towards more productive sectors of national economies, including modernizing the agriculture sector.

“Policy-makers must work towards scaling-up actions to strengthen the resilience of people’s livelihoods, food systems, and nutrition to climate variability and extremes,” said Biha adding that FAO will continue to work with its partners in an effort to combat hunger on the continent.

It comes as a recommendation that for the African countries to address food and nutrition insecurity, a holistic approach is mandatory; one built around six main lines of action that involve:

  • dealing with water, energy and food stress, with a view to managing natural resources sustainably to secure land and water rights and creating a macroeconomic environment that promotes the efficient use of natural resources
  • integrating food security into rural and agricultural transformation programs, with the aim of enhancing the resilience of rural residents
  • developing pro-poor policies that enhance the purchasing power of poor people
  • developing national approaches to food and nutrition security that are resilient to shocks and other stresses
  • encouraging and facilitating a multi-sectoral approach to food security and resilience through coordinating plans and programs across line ministries; and
  • orienting national food security policies towards more domestic food self-reliance, within a sub-regional/regional economic community perspective.

Perhaps governments should now keep as many commercial farmers as possible in production on their farms to prevent an unprecedented exodus of thousands of small subsistence farmers, farmworkers and their families out of the industry into much higher poverty and unprecedented famine.

READ Kenya’s Food Security to Deteriorate Between February and May 2019 





About Korir Isaac

A creative, tenacious, and passionate journalist with impeccable ethics and a nose for anticipated and spontaneous news. He may not say it, but he sure can make one hell of a story.

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