food insecurity

food insecurity

  • South Africa Prioritises Food Security

    The South African government is mulling ways to improve access to food and ensure good nutrition, including proposals to increase public spending on social programmes that affect food security and market interventions.
    Problems listed by the National Policy on Food and Nutrition Security approved by the cabinet include inadequate safety nets and emergency management systems to provide for those who cannot meet their immediate food needs and a lack of knowledge and resources for people to make good choices for nutritious diets, among others.
    A study in 2012 found that 26 percent of households experienced hunger and 28 percent were at risk of food insecurity.
    To read the article titled, “Food security on the table,” click here.

    Times Live
  • GMOs: The ‘Good and Bad’

    According to an article articled ‘The Good and Bad of Genetically Modified Organisms’ by Peter Sunday, the African Union a few months back called for an explanation regarding the good and the bad of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) for Ugandans to decide which path to take.

    Sunday states that the debate  around GMOs comes at a time  when 400 African organisations representing small-scale farmers, faith-based organisations, social movements, non-governmental organisations, organic producers, consumers business people have signed an African civil society petition sent to African union denouncing GMOs on the basis of lack safety data on GMOs.

    He further states that major trading countries are involved in conflicts in relation to patent rights of the products produced, with others argues that GM corn can trigger health problems like allergies.

    To read the article titled, “The good and bad of Genetically Modified Organisms,” click here.

    New Vision
  • Food Aid Needed for Refugees in Africa

    The World Food Programme (WFP) and the United Nations Refugee Agency (UNHCR) have launched an urgent appeal to address a funding shortfall that has already resulted in food ration cuts for a third of all African refugees.

    In light of nearly 800 000 refugees in 22 African countries having their monthly food allocations reduced, most of them by more than half since mid-June, WFP appeals for US$186 million to maintain its food assistance to refugees through the end of the year, while UNHCR asks for US$39 million to fund nutritional support and food security activities to refugees in the affected countries.

    A joint report by WFP and UNHCR warns that the failure to prevent continued ration cuts will lead to high levels of malnutrition, particularly among children and the most vulnerable. 

    To read the article titled, “New thinking needed on food aid for refugees in Africa,” click here.

    IRIN News
  • Campaign Aims to Fight Hunger

    Food Bank Angola (BAA) in partnership with local supermarkets held a foodstuffs raising campaign in Luanda, to contribute to the fight against hunger in the country.

    BAA chief executive officer, Albina Assis, says the campaign aims to boost her organisation and therefore make the foodstuffs to reach those who need it through specialised institutions.

    Assis adds that the campaign is the first conducted by BAA, adding that the items raised will be handed over to social institutions such as Mama Muxima orphanage, Centro Nossa Senhora da Boa Nova and Centre of the Association of Friendship among others.

    To read the article titled, “Food Bank runs foodstuffs raising campaign,” click here.

    All Africa
  • World Hunger Day Commemorated

    World Hunger Day, which is being observed on 28 May, is aimed at finding sustainable solutions to ending extreme hunger and poverty.

    The United Nations World Food Programme estimates that there are about 842 million undernourished people in the world.

    Poor nutrition causes nearly half of the deaths in children under the age of five, amounting to about 3.1 million children each year. 

    To read the article titled, “World Hunger Day seeks to find sustainable solutions,” click here.

    SABC News
  • US Govt Tackles Food Shortages in Zim

    The United States (US) government has launched a five-year, US$100 million programme to assist more than a half-million hungry Zimbabweans.
    US Ambassador to Zimbabwe, Bruce Wharton, states that his country remains committed to the welfare of Zimbabweans.
    Nonprofit international development organisations, World Vision and CNFA, will implement the five-year programme in Zimbabwe's most drought-prone provinces.
    To read the article titled, “USAID targets Zimbabwe food shortages, malnutrition,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Starvation to Hit Swaziland

    A Swazi-based newspaper has reported that people in rural Swaziland are about to die of hunger.

    The report states that rain has been scarce this season, adding that crops have failed and food has run out.

    The newspaper further quoted one unnamed elderly woman as saying that: “We are starving, literally starving my child. Just like most of the kitchens in this community right now, there is absolutely no food.”

    To read the article titled, “'Starvation' to Hit Swaziland,” click here.

    All Africa
  • Despite Climate Change, Africa Can Feed Africa

    Climate change comes with never-before-experienced impacts. For example, crop yields and growing seasons will decrease even as changing rain patterns will worsen people’s access to water. Yet Africa’s population is projected to reach two billion in less than 37 years, and in 86 years three out of every four people added to the planet will be African.

    Decreasing crop yields and increasing population will put additional pressure on an already fragile food production system. That is why experts have warned that if the current situation persists, Africa will be fulfilling only 13 percent of its food needs by 2050. This situation will further threaten about 65 percent of African workers who depend on agriculture for their livelihoods including children and the elderly, who are particularly vulnerable to food insecurity.

    Hunger already affects about 240 million Africans daily. By 2050, even a change of about 1.2 to 1.9 degrees Celsius will have increased the number of the continent’s undernourished by 25 percent to 95 percent (central Africa +25 percent, East Africa +50 percent, Southern Africa +85 percent and West Africa +95 percent). The situation will be dire for children who need proper nourishment to succeed in their education. The Economic Commission for Africa (ECA) has estimated that African countries could lose between two and 16 percent of gross domestic product due to stunting of children as a result of malnutrition.

    Climate-Stressed African Agriculture

    Changes in climate such as higher temperatures and reduced water supplies, along with other factors like biodiversity loss and ecosystems degradation, affect agriculture. According to Science, a leading international research journal, by 2030 Southern Africa and South Asia will be the two regions in the world whose crop production is most affected by climate change. For example, while wheat varieties grow well in temperatures between 15ºC and 20ºC, in sub-Saharan Africa the average annual temperature currently exceeds this mark during the growth season. Therefore, if current climate trends continue, by 2030 wheat production is likely to decline by 10 to 20 percent from 1998 - 2002 yields.

    Food insecurity will likely lead to social unrest, as has been the case in the past. For example, between 2007 and 2008, riots took place in several countries when prices of staples peaked. In 2010, hundreds of protesters took to the streets in Mozambique after wheat prices went up by 25 percent due to a global wheat shortage caused in part by wheat-crop-destroying wildfires from record heats in Russia. The increase in bread prices led to fires, violence, looting and even death.

    Fears extend beyond wheat scarcity. The Africa Adaptation Gap Report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the United Nations (UN) organ responsible for promoting sustainable use of the environment, confirmed the World Bank’s recent findings that with warming of about 2ºC, all crop yields across sub-Saharan Africa will decrease by 10 percent by the 2050s greater warming which is more likely to cause crop yields to decrease by up to 15 or 20 percent.
    Further bad news for African agriculture is that by the middle of this century, wheat production could decrease by 17 percent, maize production by five percent, sorghum production by 15 percent and millet production by 10 percent. Additionally, if climate warming exceeds 3ºC, all present-day cropping areas for maize, millet and sorghum will be unsuitable for those crops. The question becomes, is Africa’s agricultural system ready to respond?

    Protecting Water Resources

    Increasing crop production amid climate change has been done before, and analysts believe that African countries need to incorporate this knowledge in their planning. They will also need to protect and fortify their water resources, which are critical to food security.

    In the coming years, water for agriculture will be stretched to a painful extent. According to UNEP, 95 percent of agriculture relies on rainfall for water in Africa. The World Bank notes that it is very likely that by 2100 the total availability of water in all of Africa could decline by more than 10 percent. In addition, climate change threatens biodiversity and ecosystems, which are the foundation of agriculture.

    Biodiversity losses and ecosystem degradation will affect the quality of the soil and the vegetation upon which livestock depends, states the World Bank, adding that potential reductions in water, biodiversity and crops should compel Africa to pay closer attention to its current food system. In short, Africa needs an approach that works with nature, not against it.

    New and Better Approaches

    There is a continuing argument as to whether the industrial agricultural revolution will solve some or all of Africa’s climate change problems. However, experts maintain that industrial agriculture currently accounts for one third of all greenhouse gas emissions - the very element most responsible for climate change. Additionally, they believe that the resources and infrastructure required to operate an industrial agricultural system in Africa are impractical for smallholder farmers.

    New machines also mean fewer hands, which may increase joblessness while reducing wages, affecting many who depend on agriculture. Because current practices cannot meet future demands, Africa must apply new and better approaches.

    In July 2013, African leaders made an ambitious pledge to end hunger by 2025. They mean to do this by encouraging farmers to move away from cash crops, fragile cropping systems and heavily fertilizer- and pesticide-dependent systems and to adopt sustainable and climate-resilient practices. According to findings by the New Partnership for Africa’s Development (NEPAD) nutrient depletion alone accounts for US$1 billion to US$3 billion per year in natural capital losses.

    Ecosystem-Based Adaptation

    Unlocking Africa’s potential requires that policy makers in agriculture and the environment join forces with civil society and non-governmental organisations to consider options that will enable the environment and farmers to cope with climate change. One of the options being advocated is the ecosystem-based adaptation, which is to mitigate climate change impact through the use of natural systems such as drought-resistant varieties, more efficient methods of water storage and more diversity in crop rotation, says UNEP.

    In Zambia, 61 percent of farmers who applied an ecosystem-based adaptation, such as natural resource conservation or sustainable organic agricultural practices, reported surplus yields. Some yields even increased by up to 60 percent, while sales of surplus crops grew from 25.9 percent to 69 percent.

    In Burkina Faso, farmers are using indigenous methods to rehabilitate land. By digging small pits (locally referred to as zaï) on barren plots and filling them with organic matter, some Burkinabe farmers are able to add nutrients to the soil while enhancing groundwater storage to improve crop productivity. These farmers have reclaimed 200 000 to 300 000 hectares of degraded lands and have produced an estimated 80 000 to 120 000 additional tonnes of cereal.

    Other options include protecting watersheds and reinforcing their capacity to hold water and carry it to those who need it most, using integrated pest management, which is a natural and cost-effective way of protecting crops using agroforestry, intercropping and crop rotation, which bring nutrient diversity to fields and ensure continued and improved production yields in a natural way maintaining forests and using forest foods using natural fertilisers like manure and using natural pollinators like bees, which, according to a recent study, could increase fruit yields by five percent. These alternatives are cost-effective: the project in Zambia costs only US$207 per person. Similar projects in Uganda and Mozambique cost just US$14 and US$120 per person, respectively.

    A Ray of Hope

    The most pessimistic forecast about the impact of climate change suggests that Africa may lose 47 percent of agricultural revenue by 2100, while the most optimistic predicts a loss of only six percent. The latter scenario depends on the assumption that climate change adaptation practices and infrastructure are already in place. But the difference between six and 47 percent is huge, which itself is a strong argument for investment in adaptations that will unlock Africa’s vast natural resources.

    Analysts believe that if Africa is to fortify agriculture and curb hunger, it will need to work with the natural environment, making it more resilient and productive under climate change.

    The changing climate does not have to mean greater food insecurity in Africa. Many communities across the continent are already building resilience by stimulating their existing ecosystems and available natural resource bases. Building on such good practices, and properly managing the unavoidable effects of climate change, will unlock Africa’s potential to feed itself. The future need not be a future of want. 

     - Dr. Richard Munang is UNEP’s Africa regional climate change coordinator. He tweets at @MTingem. Jesica Andrews is ecosystem adaptation officer with UNEP’s Regional Office for Africa. This article first appeared in the Africa Renewal Magazine – Special Edition on Agriculture.
    Dr. Richard Munang
  • Call to Scale-Up Policies to Eliminate Hunger

    International Food Policy Organisation suggests in a report that hunger could be eliminated by 2025 if enough resources are committed and countries scale up policies proven to work.
    In the 2013 Global Food Policy Report, Shanggen Fan, director general of International Food Policy Research Institute, points out that, "Based on the successful experiences of several developing countries, we see the clear potential for ending hunger and under-nutrition by 2025 if the necessary policies and investments are adopted.
    Hunger is a continuing concern in many parts of the world, particularly with food prices rising, population growth continuing and extreme weather associated with climate change affecting harvests.
    To read the article titled, “Scale up policies that work to eliminate hunger by 2025 - food expert,” click here.

    All Africa
  • 60m Needed to Feed Hungry Zimbabweans

    The United Nations (UN) is reportedly seeking to raise US$60 million to help feed Zimbabwe’s two million people in need of food assistance.

    The country director of the UN World Food Programme in Zimbabwe, Sory Ouane, says the UN has budgeted US$86m for its food assistance programme to June this year.

    Ouane says Zimbabwe is becoming a ‘forgotten emergency’ as there are other countries like the Central African Republic and South Sudan also in need of aid assistance.

    To read the article titled, “UN seeks US$60m to feed hungry Zimbabweans,” click here.

    News 24
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