Close to two-thirds of sub-Saharan Africa’s one billion people and 90 percent of the continent’s extreme poor make their living from agriculture, according to the latest Global Hunger Index. To fight hunger and help those most vulnerable, “stakeholders at all levels must continue to find ways to improve agricultural productivity, along with dietary diversity and environmental sustainability,” the report’s researchers write (see, “Small farmers are the future of global food security”).
For decades, the African continent has had the highest hunger rate in the world. But Africa’s hunger rates are dropping, according to a report on the GHI. In 1992, Africa registered an “alarming” rate of hunger, scoring 47.9 on a scale of 100, with 100 representing the worst undernourishment observed worldwide. (The scale is based primarily on hunger’s impact on children under the age of five: wasting, or being dangerously thin for one’s height; stunting; and mortality.) As of 2016, the continent registered a “serious” 30.1 points.
Eradicating hunger by 2030—the second of the global Sustainable Development Goals—will require an acceleration of efforts. “If this region were to reduce its hunger levels between 2016 and 2030 at the same pace of reduction it experienced since 2000, it would still have GHI scores near the border between the moderate and serious—falling far short of the goal to reach Zero Hunger by 2030,” the report states.
Reaching the goal will require more productive, sustainable agriculture. That depends on something else: ending conflict and fostering political stability. War-torn South Sudan and its headline-making manmade hunger crisis highlights the link between conflict and hunger. Other countries featured in the Hunger Index also illustrate the inverse relationship between stability and food security. Ghana, Rwanda, and Senegal have become some of the most stable and increasingly prosperous countries on the continent, and all have reduced their GHI scores by more than 50 percent since 2000. Rwanda has made the biggest progress in child mortality and wasting.
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