Africa’s Hunger Crisis Deepens As War, Climate Pile On Pain

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More than 280 million people are going hungry in Africa, as fallout from climate change and the war in Ukraine deepen the region’s insecurity.

“Africa is facing a food crisis of unprecedented proportions,” the United Nations’ Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Program, the African Union and the UN Economic Commission for Africa warned in a joint report on Thursday. “After a long period of improvement between 2000 and 2010, hunger has worsened substantially and most of this deterioration occurred between 2019 and 2022.”

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The report estimated that the number of undernourished people in Africa increased by 57 million since the Covid-19 pandemic in 2020.

The region of 1.2 billion people, which is home to many of the world’s poorest communities, suffered badly as food and fuel prices surged following Russia’s 2022 invasion of Ukraine. Its farmers have also been battered by extreme weather events, including droughts and flooding linked to climate change, further pressuring prices by disrupting food supplies.

Public Anger

Anger over food prices sparked violent demonstrations and has been a contributing factor to political instability in the region, with West Africa witnessing a spate of military takeovers and coup attempts this year.

An estimated 868 million Africans were moderately or severely food insecure, with more than a third of that number in the second group, according to the report. In addition, 78% of Africa’s population cannot afford a healthy diet, compared to around half at a global level.

Food-price inflation has lifted the average cost of a healthy diet to $3.77 per person, per day, measured on a purchasing power parity basis. That’s well above the $2.15 per day viewed as the threshold for extreme poverty, meaning an increasingly large number of people not counted as poor can’t afford to eat healthily.

The worsening food security situation makes it imperative for countries to “step up their efforts if they are to achieve a world without hunger and malnutrition by 2030,” the report said. “The call for greater action remains true in view of the projected lower rate of economic growth, high general and food price inflation, and raising borrowing costs on domestic and international markets since 2022.”

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