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Hunger on the rise in Africa, UN report reveals

Hunger is on the rise in Africa mainly due to difficult global economic conditions, adverse climatic conditions due to El Nino and soaring staple food prices, according to a new report published by the UN.

Giovanie Biha
ECA’s Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanie Biha

The 2018 Africa Regional Overview of Food Security and Nutrition Report was jointly published by the UN Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO) on Thursday, February 14, 2019 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia.

The report revealed that the prevalence of undernourishment continues to rise in Africa and now affects 20 per cent of the population on the continent, more than in any other region.

According to the report, there are 821 million undernourished people in the world, some 257 million of them currently living in Africa, of which 237 million in sub-Saharan Africa and 20 million in Northern Africa.

“Compared to 2015, there are 34.5 million more undernourished people in Africa,” the report indicated.

Nearly half of the increase is due to the rise in the number of undernourished people in West Africa, while another third is from Eastern Africa, the report disclosed.

The report also indicated that food insecurity in some African countries has been worsened by conflict, often exacerbated by adverse weather, which has left millions of people in need of urgent humanitarian food assistance.

According to ECA’s Deputy Executive Secretary, Giovanie Biha, “the report sounds alarm bells for the continent.”

“At this rate, Africa does not seem to be on track to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) target number 2, which is zero hunger,” Biha said.

“African economies grew at impressive rates often exceeding five per cent over the past decade spanning from 2004 to 2014.

“However, poverty and hunger are still hanging in as significant economic growth has not been integrated and inclusive,’’ Biha said.

In order to achieve the SDGs by 2030, Africa needs to enact reforms that would help build resilience, and raise potential growth and its inclusiveness, she said. 

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