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Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition 2016

The challenge of building resilience to shocks and stresses

The theme of the 2016 edition of the Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition in Africa is: “The challenge of building resilience to shocks and stresses”. This 2016 edition of the report introduces a new tool to help enhance our understanding of food security and nutritional status, with the view to inform policy-planning and effective implementation.

Key Messages

153 million individuals suffered from severe food insecurity in 2014/15

153 million individuals suffered from severe food insecurity in 2014/15

A recent assessment of food insecurity through the lenses of “hunger experience” reveals that 153 million individuals, about 26 percent of the population above 15 years of age in sub-Saharan Africa, suffered from severe food insecurity in 2014/15. In other words, one out of four individuals above 15 years of age in the region, on average, was “hungry but did not eat or went without eating for a whole day because there was not enough money or other resources for food”. These numbers underline the significance of the challenge facing the region in meeting SDGs target 2.1 and the relevance of sustainable and substantial support to food security and nutrition policies and programmes in the region.

Sub-Saharan Africa achieved adequate food availability over the 2014–2016 period

Sub-Saharan Africa achieved adequate food availability over the 2014–2016 period

On aggregate, sub-Saharan Africa achieved adequate food availability over the 2014–2016 period with its Dietary Energy Supply (DES) of 110 percent. However, several countries in the region remain highly dependent on food imports to ensure adequate food supplies, with some subregions depending on imports to fill up to a third of their cereal needs. This suggests that substantial demand for food exists for these countries, and there is a need to increase agricultural productivity, food production and value addition, among other things, to satisfy it.

Efforts must be made to spur a broad-based economic transformation

Efforts must be made to spur a broad-based economic transformation

The average per capita income was three times lower in sub-Saharan Africa than it was in other regions of the world in 2014, although it witnessed a 30 percent increase between 1990 and 2014. Poverty levels declined in the region but remained the highest in the world relatively, and the region is far from halving the proportion of people living in poverty. Efforts must be made to spur a broad-based economic transformation, particularly in the agricultural sector, – which is the major source of income in sub-Saharan Africa – to generate substantive reduction in poverty and improve food accessibility.

Poverty levels declined in the region but remained the highest in the world

Poverty levels declined in the region but remained the highest in the world

The average per capita income was three times lower in sub-Saharan Africa than it was in other regions of the world in 2014, although it witnessed a 30 percent increase between 1990 and 2014. Poverty levels declined in the region but remained the highest in the world relatively, and the region is far from halving the proportion of people living in poverty. Efforts must be made to spur a broad-based economic transformation, particularly in the agricultural sector – which is the major source of income in sub-Saharan Africa – to generate substantive reduction in poverty and improve food accessibility.

The region suffers from the triple burden of malnutrition, undernutrition, and overweight/obesity

The region suffers from the triple burden of malnutrition, undernutrition, and overweight/obesity

Even though some progress is being made in reducing malnutrition, evidence shows that the region suffers from the triple burden of malnutrition, undernutrition, and overweight/obesity coupled with rising levels of non-communicable diseases and micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) deficiencies. An increased number of comprehensive social protection policy frameworks and institutional arrangements have been introduced in the region to integrate nutrition and agriculture. Countries are encouraged to adopt multisectoral and multidisciplinary approaches in integrating agriculture, nutrition, social protection and related measures by realigning, integrating and coordinating activities and accountability mechanisms to deliver evidence-based sustainable nutrition solutions and outcomes

Unstable food markets and commodity prices and natural disasters

Unstable food markets and commodity prices and natural disasters

Some of the main causes of food insecurity and malnutrition in the region are associated with unstable food markets and commodity prices and natural disasters, including severe droughts and floods, leading to failed crops, insufficient pasture feed and water for livestock, and persistent political instability, conflicts and other forms of violence.

Policy commitments and strategies

Policy commitments and strategies

In general, several policy commitments and strategies documented in this report are yet to generate the expected results. Coincidentally, many country experiences illustrate the feasibility of the right combination of cross-sectoral policies and programmes towards eliminating hunger and malnutrition. Countries in the region need to clearly review and exert effort in order to improve the translation of political commitments and declarations into effective programmes on the ground, particularly in the context of the ambitious targets set in the Malabo Declaration for 2025 and the Sustainable Development Agenda for 2030.

Creation of an enabling environment for investment and participation

Creation of an enabling environment for investment and participation

Continued policy reforms to sharpen their focus and the creation of an enabling environment for investment and participation by all relevant stakeholders is critical to ending hunger, thus achieving food security and nutrition. Specifically, development of innovative resource mobilization from a broad set of public and private sector actors and financial instruments is essential if actions are to be implemented in a sustained and widespread manner to scale up food security and nutrition programmes in sub-Saharan Africa.

Increasing the resilience of agricultural livelihoods and promoting and financing CSA practices

Increasing the resilience of agricultural livelihoods and promoting and financing CSA practices

As the magnitude and impact of crises and disasters increase – aggravated by the overexploitation of natural resources and climate change – more and more households, communities and governments in the region are less able to absorb, recover and adapt, making them increasingly vulnerable to future shocks. Governments must intensify their efforts to ensure that years of gradual agricultural development gains are not wiped out by recurrent shocks. Increasing the resilience of agricultural livelihoods and promoting and financing CSA practices would be a powerful lever to reach the pledge of the Sustainable Development Goals “to leave no one behind”.

The impact of the El Niño and La Niña phenomenon in 2014/15

The impact of the El Niño and La Niña phenomenon in 2014/15

The impact of the El Niño and La Niña phenomenon in 2014/15 has been one of the most intense and widespread in the past 100 years. The agriculture, food security and nutritional status of more than 60 million people in Africa have been affected by droughts and floods. Therefore, immediate short- medium- and long-term measures are needed to promote and scale up appropriate technologies to adapt and mitigate climate variability and change, to develop resilience monitoring and evaluation frameworks, and to minimize the impacts on affected communities.

Building resilience through peace-building efforts

Building resilience through peace-building efforts

Building resilience through peace-building efforts is critical to food security and nutrition. In armed conflict and protracted crises, protecting, saving and rebuilding agricultural livelihoods to save lives and create the conditions for longer-term resilience is a key step towards ensuring peace and stability. The critical role of the agriculture sector in crisis situations must not be overlooked and necessary investments need to be made.