UN Agencies Call For Agrifoods Transformation In Africa

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By Mandipa Masenyama

THREE United Nations agencies Tuesday called for African countries to act on agrifood transformation in a bid to curb hunger and malnutrition as shown by the interactive digital report that reflects surging hunger statistics in Africa.

In a statement, the new interactive digital report launched shows that the number of hungry people in Africa continues to rise, stimulated by conflict, climate change and economic slowdowns including those triggered by Covid-19.

The African Union Commission (AUC), the Food and Agriculture Organisation of the United Nations (FAO) and the UN Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) launched the digital report as the latest update to their annual reporting on the state of food security and nutrition in Africa.

The report exposed how hunger has surged globally since 2013, but most of this deterioration has transpired between the years 2019 and 2020 and a sharp increase of hunger in 2021 triggered by the tight Covid-19 lockdowns, economic meltdowns and job losses.

The trio behind the statistics on the state of food security and nutrition in Africa have called for African countries to heed the call for agrifood system transformation.

“Countries must engage in and leverage the outcomes of the United Nations Food Systems Summit, the Nutrition for Growth Summit and the 2021 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP26),” FAO Assistant Director-General and Regional Representative for Africa Abebe Haile-Gabriel said with William Lugemwa, UNECA’s Director of the Private Sector Development and Finance Division, and Josefa Sacko, African Union Commissioner for Agriculture, Rural Development, Blue Economy and Sustainable Environment, in the report’s joint foreword.

The digital report gives readers a clear insight of issues to do with hunger in Africa, showing a sharp increase in the year 2020, having 281,6 million recorded to be undernourished.

Statistics shows that the Eastern African part is the one heavily affected by hunger as the total percentage of it sums up to 44%, followed by the Western African countries with a total of 27%, Central Africa’s percentage being 20%, Northern Africa 6,2% and Southern Africa summing up to 2,4%.

Short term measures to address the hunger challenge include countries providing humanitarian assistance and effective social protection measures, the statistical report says.

Over the longer term, countries will need to invest in agriculture and related sectors, as well as in water, health, and education services to curb the surging hunger statistics in Africa.

Africa has been a breeding place for hunger especially in countries affected by extreme poverty as more than half Africans live below the poverty datum line.