Despite progress made over the past few decades, about 767 million people globally continue to live in extreme poverty, half of them in sub-Saharan Africa.
The majority of the world’s poor and hungry live in rural areas and depend on agriculture for their survival. However, their livelihoods are often constrained by limited access to resources, services, technologies, markets and economic opportunities, lowering their productivity and income. Fast population growth, increasing conflicts, civil insecurity and climate change exacerbate the situation, as the poor are invariably the most vulnerable.
In 2013, the African Union convened a High-Level Meeting on Renewed Partnership for a Unified Approach to End Hunger in Africa and signed a declaration to end hunger on the continent by 2025, by sustaining the momentum behind the Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP). The outcome of this meeting was a precursor to the 2014 Malabo Declaration on Accelerated Agricultural Growth and Transformation for Shared Prosperity and Improved Livelihoods. Amongst others, this Declaration committed to end hunger and malnutrition by 2025 and ensure mutual accountability for results through a biennial review and reporting progress.
The Inaugural Biennial Report reveals that commitment number 3, “Ending hunger by 2025”, is not on track, with a score of 1.62 compared to a benchmark of 3.17 in 2017.
The report is in line with the UN publication The State of Food Security and Nutrition in the World 2017, which recognized that despite a prolonged decline, world hunger appears to be on the rise again. It also highlighted that this trend is closely associated with the increase in conflicts in Africa, exacerbated by climate-related shocks, drought and other factors that threaten to reduce the agricultural and livestock productivity of the African continent.
The warning sign that Africa needs to step up its efforts and find new ways working with its partners towards the ambition of ending hunger in Africa by 2025 is thus clear.
The commitment to end hunger was further strengthened by the adoption of the Africa 2063 Agenda, as well as the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). Specifically, SDG 2 aims to “End hunger, achieve food security and improve nutrition, and promote sustainable agriculture.” Several countries in Africa, as well as their regional economic entities, have made considerable progress to align agricultural and other policies, programmes and investments related to food security and nutrition with the Zero Hunger vision of the 2014 Malabo Declaration and SDG 2.
However, the continent as a whole faces considerable challenges in attaining these goals while facing low agricultural productivity, climate change and environmental degradation, as well as high youth unemployment. Recent estimates on food security and nutrition reveal that the prevalence of undernourishment in sub-Saharan Africa rose from 20.8 percent in 2015 to 22.7 percent in 2016; in concrete terms, this amounts to about 224 million people who are undernourished, up from 200 million in 2015.
Ending hunger is both a moral and an economic imperative. With strategic concerted efforts, it is a dream that is possible by 2030. It is, therefore, important to keep up the momentum and redouble current efforts in a coordinated, integrated and aligned approach to enhance food security and curb malnutrition.
A renewed call for action
Key challenges in achieving the SDGs include addressing food insecurity and undernourishment in Africa. Doing so will require:
Greater investment in agriculture and increased agricultural productivity, including through higher levels of irrigation, technology and value addition.
Commitments made in the Maputo Protocol to allocate 10 percent of national budgets to agriculture and rural development policy should inspire the achievement of this goal.
Building resilience to shocks, including by adapting to the effects of climate change, strengthening institutional response mechanisms and sustained and sustainable development will enable countries to deal with disasters and address food insecurity more effectively.
There are huge data requirements for the proper monitoring of the Goals, and analysis reveals large gaps in availability and sharing. There is an urgent need to invest more in generating and disseminating reliable data at all levels to allow for efficient monitoring and reporting.
Harmonized governance of food security and nutrition by harnessing coordination efforts across sectors and stakeholders on the continent.