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UN Says Hunger on the Rise in Africa, East Africa Leads at 44pct

David Indeje is Khusoko’s Digital Editor, covering East African markets.
A new, interactive digital report launched today shows that the number of hungry people in Africa continues to rise, spurred by conflict, climate change and economic slowdowns including those triggered by COVID-19.

Over one-fifth of the population in Africa did not have enough to eat in 2020, the United Nations said Thursday, which is 46.3 million more than in 2019. This has largely been attributed to conflict, climate change and economic slowdowns such as the Covid-19 pandemic.

For instance, the report states that real gross domestic product in Africa fell by 2.1 per cent in 2020, primarily due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

“This deterioration continues a trend that started in 2014, after a prolonged period of improving food security. In addition to hunger, millions of Africans suffer from widespread micronutrient deficiencies, while overweight and obesity are already significant public health concerns in many countries. Progress towards achieving the global nutrition targets by 2030 remains unacceptably slow,” part of the report by the United Nations Economic Commission (UNEC),  African Union Commission (AUC), and the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) reads.

In the report, 21 per cent of the continent’s population is malnourished, a 4.3 per cent rise since 2014. 

Data shows at least 281. 6 million Africans were undernourished in 2020, an increase of 89. 1 million since 2014.

In addition,  the majority of undernourished people live in East Africa at 125.1 million people followed by Western Africa at  75.2 million and Central Africa at 57.1 million.

Preventing COVID-19 from Becoming a Hunger Crisis in Africa

“Countries must engage in and leverage the outcomes of the United Nations Food Systems Summit, the Nutrition for Growth Summit and the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26),” FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa Abebe Haile-Gabriel said with William Lugemwa, UNECA’s Director of the Private Sector Development and Finance Division, and Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, in the report’s joint foreword.

“A common vision, strong political leadership and effective cross-sectoral collaboration, which includes the private sector, are essential to agree on trade-offs and to identify and implement sustainable solutions that transform agrifood systems,” they said in Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2021: Statistics and Trends.

The digital report allows readers to get a better understanding of the scope of hunger in Africa. In 2020, 281.6 million Africans were undernourished, an increase of 89.1 million over 2014, the report shows.

There is significant variation in the levels and trends of hunger across the subregions. About 44 per cent of undernourished people on the continent live in Eastern Africa, 27 per cent in Western Africa, 20 per cent in Central Africa, 6.2 per cent in Northern Africa, and 2.4 per cent in Southern Africa.

Short-term measures to address the hunger challenge include countries providing humanitarian assistance and effective social protection measures, the report says. 

Over the longer term, countries will need to invest in agriculture and related sectors, as well as in water, health, and education services.

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David Indeje is Khusoko’s Digital Editor, covering East African markets.

In my role as Community Engagement Editor For Khusoko, I care about our audience. engaging them, getting news delivered to them across a variety of platforms, and expanding the diversity of voices on our website.

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