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Russia's invasion of Ukraine jeopardizes food security in Africa: Shocks to global food supply chains could lead to social and political unrest

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What’s new?

The Russian invasion of Ukraine poses significant threats to Africa’s food security. Both the timing and the two parties involved in this conflict aggravate the adverse impacts of the invasion and foreshadows to disrupt food supply chains and subsequently exacerbate food insecurity challenges in Africa through three main pathways: Disruption of energy markets and shipping routes, shortage of fertilizers and inputs, and negative "third-party" effects of sanctions imposed on and by Russia.

Why is it important?

A fifth of Africa’s population was already suffering from hunger prior to the invasion, a higher proportion than in any other region in the world. The heavy reliance of Africa on international food markets together with the large share of food commodities in households’ expenditure imply that the war can significantly decrease food supply and increase domestic food price inflation. The ongoing war not only threatens food security, it could also inflame conflict and destabilize African governments and political systems.

What should be done and by whom?

African governments and their development partners need to respond quickly and decisively on the short-term issues while working to address the longer-term ones to boost food and nutrition security and strengthen food systems. In the short run, efforts should focus on strengthening social protection systems to enhance food access and increase the purchasing power of vulnerable groups. In the long run, stronger international co-operation is needed for building productive capacities of African food systems and enhancing their resilience and preparedness to deal with future shocks.