Questions & Answers

How many people still suffer hunger and malnutrition in the region?

How many people still suffer hunger and malnutrition in the region?

According to the latest FAO figures, about 26 percent of the population over 15, representing 153 million people, suffered from severe food insecurity in 2014/15. This is the highest prevalence of severe food insecurity in the world. At the sub-regional level, the prevalence of severe food insecurity was 20 percent in southern Africa, 23 percent in western Africa, 28 percent in eastern Africa, and 31 percent in middle Africa.
The prevalence of stunting in sub-Saharan Africa fell by only 7.2 percent from 1985 to 2016, and one in three children under the age of five is stunted.
With regard to micronutrient deficiency, 39 percent of women of reproductive age in sub-Saharan Africa are affected by anemia, 15 percent of the global burden. About 48 percent of children of pre-school age are deficient in vitamin A, a prevalence that is about thrice or more the level in other regions.

How can hunger and all forms of undernourishment be eradicated?

How can hunger and all forms of undernourishment be eradicated?

To end hunger and malnutrition and work across sectors, the commitment of the whole of society is needed, including the State, civil society, academia, productive organizations, NGOs and the private sector. This broad commitment provides the economic, social, legal and political foundations needed to create and sustain the policies and strategies needed to end hunger.
In sub-Saharan Africa the AU Agenda 2063 sets the continent’s development vision over the next 50 years towards a prosperous Africa, based on inclusive growth and sustainable development, among other things. This vision puts food security and nutrition at the heart of Africa’s development agenda with greater commitment to ending hunger, achieving food security and advancing optimal nutrition for all Africans.
With a view to implementing the Agenda 2063, African Heads of State and Government adopted the Malabo Declaration on “Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods” and pledged to end hunger by the year 2025 by at least doubling current agricultural productivity levels, reducing postharvest losses and waste by at least half the current level, and reducing stunting to 10 percent and underweight to 5 percent.
Governments must now intensify their efforts to refine policies, and to create an enabling environment for investment and participation by all relevant stakeholders which is critical to end hunger, and achieve food and nutrition security. In addition, 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.

Why is raising agricultural productivity in the region important and what are the key policy initiatives?

Why is raising agricultural productivity in the region important and what are the key policy initiatives?

For sub-Saharan Africa as a whole, the food supply effectively covers energy consumption needs. This is true in most regions although in East Africa the needs are just met and middle-Africa has a shortfall in dietary energy supply. While food production had increased slightly in sub-Saharan Africa for over three decades it has remained stagnant for the last 5 years. Agricultural productivity remains very low in the region.
Many sub-Saharan African countries are potential food baskets, but trends indicate that many countries in the region are increasingly becoming net food importers. The region has been relying on imports to fill 15 to 20 percent of cereal availability. Persistent food import dependency is a serious problem for many African countries, especially when high and rising food import bills take money away from other important development agendas without resolving food insecurity.
The Malabo Declaration pledges to at least double current agricultural productivity levels by 2025. Key to achieving this goal is the adoption in 2016 by the AfDB of the ‘Feed Africa’ strategy which aims to increase productivity through a public sector-enabled, but private sector-led transformation of agriculture into a business and create a foundation for prosperity, nutrition, and quality of life for all Africans.

What can be done to reduce poverty levels in sub-Saharan Africa?

What can be done to reduce poverty levels in sub-Saharan Africa?

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.
Providing focus to such efforts is the AfDB’s ‘Feed Africa’ strategy to enhance a competitive and inclusive agribusiness sector that creates wealth, improves lives and protects the environment. The strategy, which is one of the five high priorities of the AfDB, aims to end hunger and rural poverty in Africa in the next decade by focusing on transformation and scaling up agriculture as a business, and using innovative financing mechanisms.
There is also growing interest and appreciation of social protection as a tool for addressing the challenges of poverty, food insecurity and malnutrition, through direct assistance and by integrating programmes with agriculture, education, nutrition. For example, Nigeria aims to scale up the “Home-Grown School-Feeding” (HGSF) programme to the national level and ultimately provide free school meals to all primary school children. The programme aims to improve enrollment, child nutrition and health, strengthen local agricultural economies, and create employment.

What is the triple burden of malnutrition and how can it be reduced?

What is the triple burden of malnutrition and how can it be reduced?

Despite some progress in reducing malnutrition, evidence shows that the region suffers from a triple burden of malnutrition: undernutrition, overweight/obesity, and micronutrient (vitamins and minerals) deficiencies.
Sub-Saharan Africa is on course to achieve two out of the six nutrition targets set by the World Health Assembly for 2025, namely overweight and exclusive breastfeeding. However, the region is not on course to achieve the targets for stunting, wasting, anemia in women of reproductive age and low-birth weight.
At the regional level the African Regional Nutrition Strategy for 2016–2025 provides a roadmap to enhance and promote nutrition. The strategy incorporates emerging nutrition concerns and sets clear targets that include the attainment of a 40 percent reduction in stunting, a 50 percent reduction of anemia in WRA and a 5 percent reduction in wasting among children under 5 years of age by 2025.
Implementation requires a multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approaches in integrating agriculture, nutrition, public health, education, and social protection. This approach also facilitates the pursuit of multiple objectives, including better nutrition, gender equality and environmental sustainability.

How much of a threat is climate change and what measures are being taken?

How much of a threat is climate change and what measures are being taken?

Agriculture in Africa is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate variability and change, given that it is largely rain-fed and because productivity is already low; hence, there is limited “shock-absorption” capacity. Forty-seven sub-Sahara African countries noted climate change threats to livelihood, health and economies and nearly all countries referred to climate change as a threat to food production.
Already by 2020 the impact is likely to be severe. Millions of African will be exposed to increased water stress due to climate change. In some countries, yields from rain-fed agriculture could be reduced by up to 50 percent. Food security is projected to be severely compromised in many African countries. Coastal flooding and a gradual rise of land classified as arid or semi-arid are also forecast.
Adaptation to climate change is expected to cost African countries US$ 20-30 billion over the next 10 to 20 years. The AU/NEPAD programme on agriculture and climate change, guided by the 2014 Malabo Declaration, aims to have at least 30 percent of farming and pastoral households resilient to climate and weather related risks by 2025.
Countries are also taking action. For example, the Rwandan Government, launched the “Rwanda Climate Services for Agriculture”. This three year project will benefit nearly one million farmers through improved climate risk management, enabling access to reliable climate and weather forecasts for informed decisions on harvest timing and use of fertilizers.

Drought and conflict are an increasing threat to food security.

Drought and conflict are an increasing threat to food security.

Populations in Africa are increasingly exposed to natural hazards, to man-made and protracted crises that can wipe out years of development. The 2015/16 El Niño, in terms of impact on crop and livestock production and agricultural livelihoods, is one of the most intense and widespread in the past 100 years.
In mid-2016, FAO estimated that more than 60 million people, with two-thirds of them in eastern and southern Africa, faced food shortages because of El Niño-related droughts. Regional and country responses include providing immediate support to most vulnerable populations; scaling up social protection and safety nets; developing regional resilience monitoring and evaluation frameworks and promoting and scaling up appropriate technologies to adapt and mitigate against climate variability and change.
Ethiopia, one of the most affected countries, provided for emergency seed and emergency livestock feed and animal health campaigns. About 7.6 million people were assisted with food and the government established an Emergency Food Security Reserve Administration, to enable an immediate response to any emergency. In addition, improved early warning systems and serious engagements by the Ethiopian Government have helped to mitigate the impact of El Niño.

Building resilience is key to support peace-building efforts

Building resilience is key to support peace-building efforts

Climate change and shocks such as El Niño pose serious threats to peace, growth and shared prosperity. Combining efforts to restore and support resilient livelihoods with peace-building and conflict resolution efforts is critical to sustainable development and food security and nutrition. Equally, investing in food security and agriculture may strengthen efforts to prevent conflict and achieve sustained peace.

How do we ensure that we “leave no one behind”?

How do we ensure that we “leave no one behind”?

Sub-Saharan Africa is facing many challenges. 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.
It is key to transform agriculture into a modern, commercial, sector, with the public sector enabling private sector activity. At the same time, multi-sectoral and multidisciplinary approaches that integrate agriculture, nutrition, social protection and related measures are needed to sustainably eradicate hunger, and provide food and nutrition security. Effective monitoring and accountability are an essential part of these efforts.
Finally, it is crucial to increase the resilience of agricultural livelihoods, to promote and finance Climate Smart Agricultural practices, and to combine such efforts with peace-building and conflict resolution. Together such efforts can deliver sustainable development and food security and nutrition and help the continent reach the pledge of the Sustainable Development Goals “to leave no one behind”.