As the sun rises over the vast savannas of Africa, a mother of four wakes up in her small village in rural Ethiopia. She knows that today, like every other day, will be a struggle to put food on the table for her family. The drought that has ravaged her community for the past two years has left her farm barren, and she is left with few options to feed her family. She sets off to the local market, hoping to barter for some goods or find work as a day laborer, but she knows the prospects are very narrow.
This is just one example of the daily struggles faced by millions of people across Africa, as the continent grapples with a hunger crisis that is leaving too many without enough to eat. The causes of this crisis are complex and multifaceted, but poverty, climate change, Covid-19, and conflict are among the main drivers.
Africa’s Hunger Crisis: A Pressing Concern for Africa
Poverty is a major contributor to the hunger crisis in Africa. According to the World Bank, around 41% of the population in sub-Saharan Africa lives in extreme poverty, defined as living on less than $1.90 per day [World Bank]. This leaves many people unable to afford enough food to meet their basic needs. This is particularly true in rural areas where smallholder farmers, like the mother in Ethiopia, are struggling to make ends meet.
Climate change is also worsening the hunger crisis in Africa. The continent is particularly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, with droughts, floods, and extreme weather events becoming more frequent and severe. These natural disasters can destroy crops and infrastructure, making it difficult for people to access food. In fact, many experts believe that climate change could push up to 122 million more people into extreme poverty in Africa by 2030, with hunger being a significant contributor [The Guardian].
The coronavirus in 2019 also brought anxiety, insecurity, and disruption to the people of Africa. But above all, it led Africa to another pandemic, which is the “Hunger Pandemic.” A Pandemic on top of a Pandemic. Because of Covid-19’s influence on human life and the global economy, the number of extremely hungry people has doubled, especially in Africa. Countries like Ethiopia, Nigeria, Madagascar, South Sudan, and Yemen are already experiencing famine-like conditions [WFP].
The COVID-19 pandemic has only exacerbated the crisis, as lockdowns and disruptions to food supply chains have made it even harder for people to access food. Not only Covid-19, but this continent is also facing many other diseases regularly, which led African countries to double jeopardy where they have to fight both disease and hunger at the same time.
Conflict is another major factor contributing to the hunger crisis in Africa. Many countries on the continent are currently experiencing or have recently experienced armed conflict, which can disrupt food production and distribution, as well as force people to flee their homes. This is the case in countries like South Sudan [UNICEF], Somalia, and the Central African Republic, where ongoing conflict has left millions of people without enough to eat.
Despite these challenges, there are steps that can be taken to address the hunger crisis in Africa. These include increasing investment in smallholder farmers, improving infrastructure and transportation networks, and investing in technology and innovation to make food production more sustainable and resilient. Additionally, initiatives such as economic development programs, peacebuilding efforts, and policies that promote gender equality and empowerment can play a crucial role in addressing the root causes of hunger.
As the mother in Ethiopia sets off to the market, she may not know it, but her struggles are not unique. Across Africa, millions of people are facing similar challenges, and it is up to all of us to take action and work toward a future where no one goes to bed hungry. Together, we can help to alleviate Africa’s hunger crisis and ensure that everyone has access to enough food to meet their basic needs.
Therefore, Africa’s hunger crisis is a pressing concern that needs to be addressed immediately. The continent is facing a complex and varied crisis, with poverty, climate change, Covid-19, conflict, and population boom being the main drivers of the problem. However, there are steps that can be taken to address the hunger crisis in Africa. It is vital to increase investment in smallholder farmers, improve infrastructure and transportation networks, and invest in technology and innovation to make food production more sustainable and resilient. By addressing the root causes of hunger and investing in sustainable solutions, we can work towards a future where all people in Africa have access to enough food to meet their basic needs.
Thumbnail, 2:- Oxfam East Africa, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons 1:- By jhntering - 21958035836_13912b57cf_o, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons 3: Photo by Guillaume Falco 4:- Photo by Denis Ngai 5:- hdptcar from Bangui, Central African Republic, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons 6:- By Oxfam East Africa - Oxfam Ambassador Kristin Davis visits Dadaab refugee camp, CC BY 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons