Food security in Africa according to the African Union slogan

Food security in Africa according to the African Union slogan
Food security in Africa according to the African Union slogan
Food security in Africa according to the African Union slogan
Food security in Africa according to the African Union slogan

By : Abdishakur Abib Mohamed​

Food is one of the most important items in the world as it is critical to human survival together with clothing and shelter. These three items are usually classified as the man’s basic needs. Food security in Africa has come under extremely threats due to some factors some of which are natural while some are artificial depending on the circumstances and the countries involved. A food-secure world is one where all people have access to safe, nutritious and affordable food that provides the foundation for active and healthy lives. In recent decades, demographic and economic growth have challenged the limits of economic, social, and ecological sustainability, giving rise to questions about food security at the global level. Despite technological advances that have modernized the conditions of production and distribution of food, hunger and malnutrition still threaten the health and well-being of millions of people around the world. Africa was estimated to have a population of 1.25 billion in 2018 and is the fastest urbanizing continent, with a growth rate of more than 2.6 percent. The large youth population presents a potential demographic dividend that, if adequately leveraged with the right investments, could contribute to accelerating sustainable and equitable development. Around 12 million people were suffering from starvation in the Horn of Africa (Somalia, Ethiopia, northeastern Kenya), stricken by the worst drought in the past 60 years, announced the FAO on July 12, 2011. A few days before, the WFP had estimated that, in this region, 10 million people needed food assistance. The Secretary-General of the United Nations called an emergency meeting with all directors of the United Nations agencies and requested member states for a more generous attitude regarding their help to the countries suffering from starvation. In fact, less than half of the US$1.6 million (€1.14billion) needed for the assistance program to be carried out in that region had been collected. Over the years, the under-5 mortality has reduced by more than 50 percent between 1994 to 2019; fertility rates have declined from 6 to 4 children per women. However, compared to the rest of the world, the malnutrition remains high in the continent and undernutrition is particularly an underlying cause of almost half of child deaths. The Agriculture and Food Security Division coordinates the implementation of AU decisions related to agricultural transformation in Africa.
The Division currently coordinates the implementation of 4 continental initiatives:
• Comprehensive Africa Agriculture Development Programme (CAADP) Assembly/AU/Decl.7 (II)
• Partnership for Aflatoxin Control in Africa (PACA) EX.CL/768 (XXII)
• Africa Seed and Biotechnology Programme (ASBP) Assembly/AU/Dec.86(V)
• Ecological Organic Agriculture Initiative(EOAI) EX.CL/Dec.621 (XVII)
• Geographic Indications Strategy for Africa (GISA) EX.CL/Dec.987(XXXI

 With regard to food security, the African continent faces special challenges. Figures for 1997-99 show that about 200 million people (28 percent of Africa’s population) are chronically hungry compared to 173 million in 1990-92. While the proportion of the population living in hunger is dropping slightly, the absolute numbers are rising. Most of the economic opportunities accessible at both the household and the national level will have to come from agriculture, since agriculture directly affects the lives of between 70 and 80 percent of Africa’s people.  The critical factors impacting food security in Africa are briefly reviewed in the next sections.
    1. Rapid Population Growth Rate.
Population growth is probably the single most important global factor influencing food security. It took nearly 1 million years for the earth’s human population to reach 1 billion people. During the next 10 years, another billion will be added (FAO 1996a : Ch4 p.9). Africa remains the world’s fastest growing region, at an estimated 2.4 percent per annum. The region will attain an estimated population of 1,406 million by the year 2030 (UNEP 2002 : 312). What is more, structural characteristics of the world’s population are changing in ways that affect food security. At present, over 800 million people are chronically undernourished because of lack of food. 
Rapid urbanization is also a main driving force, which is causing stresses in many African economies. With an average growth rate of 3.71 per cent, Africa is the fastest urbanizing region of the world. In 2000, the urbanization level was only 37.9 percent, and it is projected to reach 54.5 percent by 2030. Urban population is expected to grow from 297 million in 2000 to 766 million in 2030 the next 30 years, the number of people living in cities in developing countries will quadruple from 1 billion to 4 billion individuals. This imposing shift towards a more urban world calls for a different set of institutions, markets, and infrastructure and food policies
   2. Agricultural Policies and Governance.
Macro-economic stresses, such as the transition to cash economies, and the penetration by global markets into local economies and the attendant structural changes, further serve to weaken the efficacy of traditional coping mechanisms, and exacerbate vulnerability to food insecurity. Natural hazards and armed conflict present two of the greatest obstacles to achieving necessary coping objectives; that is increasing agricultural output while seeking additional security through alternative forms of income and stability. It is impossible to achieve food security and sustainable development without good governance.  Good governance in Africa is challenged by various issues, including the collapse of the state in countries where governments hardly have the capacity to govern and maintain law and order. Narrow political considerations, personalized power and corruption have undermined the process of democracy and responsive governance. Inequity in social, economic and political systems.
   3. Management of Agricultural Land.
However, Africa’s land is suffering from degradation and reduced productivity. The causes of land deration in the region are climatic variability and management practices, in addition to physical factors, such as the slope of the land and soil structure. As a result of pressures to increase production, marginal land is being brought under cultivation or grazing; fertilizers and pesticides are widely used by commercial operations; and fallow periods are being reduced. These activities can result in exhaustion of the
   4. Water resource management. 
In most countries situated in the arid regions, water availability per caput is already below the level that would allow enough food to be grown locally to feed the population. Between 30 and 40 percent of food production comes from a 250-millionhectares irrigated area worldwide. There are few regional variations in the proportion of agricultural land that receives irrigation: 35 percent is in Asia, 11 percent in Latin America, and 6 percent in sub-Saharan Africa.
   5. Technology and Food Processing.
Before colonization, African economies were able to survive large-scale environmental degradation, for a number of reasons. First, the population was small, and the demands on the economy were small. More importantly, the technology was appropriate and adequate, because the African people had learned over centuries to adapt systems of extraction of natural resources to be commensurate with the dictates of the environment. 

 The problem of food insecurity must be seen as a security threats to not only to the country but also to the continent as a whole thereby prompting each country to device means aimed at reducing the menace headlong so as to prevent possible negative consequences that usually accompany food insecurity in countries that have suffered unrest before. If the problem is attacked with all seriousness by implementing the recommendations of various policy makers then the continent will be self-sufficient in terms of food security. Africa’s existing economic problems, especially rapid declining agricultural production, food insecurity and hunger require objective analysis and appropriate mitigation measures. The critical food security factors that need urgent analysis backed by effective management mechanisms include the rapid rate of population growth rate ; agricultural policies and governance ; management of agricultural land ; water resources management ; technological possibilities ; the contribution of women ; food security early warning systems ; protecting the environment whilst ensuring food security ; and providing appropriate support for pastoralists and livestock production. The traditional and low-external input agricultural systems have a big potential to contribute positively towards the reduction of poverty and food insecurity in SSA if accorded the right support. Taking into account the fragile and variable environmental conditions of most SSA countries, modern industrialized agriculture should be de-emphasized and the priority accorded sustainable and organic farming system.