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Famine in East Africa sounds the alarm for a new approach to food security

International aid organizations are warning that more than 16 million people face hunger in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and South Sudan. Nigeria and Yemen also face food emergencies.

The compounding crises offer an urgent reminder that nearly a billion people worldwide are unable to access sufficient food. Food insecurity is likely to increase as population growth drives a 50 percent increase in demand for food by 2030 and an increase of more than 80 percent by 2050.

This week, government and business leaders, researchers, philanthropists and investors convene in Washington D.C. to check their progress at the Global Food Security Symposium.

A 2015 European Commission report, Global Food Security 2030, suggests that the well-nourished and the undernourished need to be considered as parts of the same global food system. That suggests the need for an integrated approach that secures “regular access to adequate food for the majority of the 8–9 billion people who will live on earth in the period 2030–2050, while addressing the food insecurity of a fraction of that total.”

In the developed world, this means more efficient use of agricultural inputs and reduction of waste (e.g. through precision farming) and genetic improvements in crops. In emerging markets this means more efficient use of water and fertilizers, adoption of soil conservation practices and significant reductions in post-harvest losses.

The report’s authors urge “particular attention to the eradication of hunger and malnutrition through special anti-poverty, rural development and food aid actions.” At the same time, global leaders “must better exploit the huge opportunity the global food sector represents in terms of innovation, commerce, trade, health, wealth generation and geopolitical relations.”

This post originally appeared in ImpactAlpha’s daily newsletter. Get The Brief.

Photo credit: Getty

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